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Russian President Putin in military uniform (file photo) (epa)
7 February 2006 -- President Vladimir Putin today praised the Federal Security Service (FSB) for the "professionalism" that he said Russia's counterintelligence service recently demonstrated in exposing foreign spies.
FSB officials recently accused four British diplomats in Russia of spying and said one of them had provided funds for NGOs.
Addressing a meeting at the FSB's headquarters in Moscow, Putin said "one may only regret the fact that the scandal cast a shadow" over Russian nongovernmental organizations.
Putin said, however, that the FSB is not to blame for that and suggested NGOs should be "more prudent" when it comes to their sources of funding.
Rights activists have dismissed accusations that they have been acting in league with spies as a campaign to discredit NGOs following the passage of a controversial law that severely restricts their activities and financing.
Putin also called on the FSB to combat terrorism resolutely. He urged them to "strike at all caves where the terrorists are hiding and eliminate [them] like rats."
(ITAR- TASS, Interfax)
Lyudmila Alekseyeva (TASS)
THE END OF THE 'GOLDEN AGE' Moscow Helsinki Group founder and Chairwoman LYUDMILA ALEKSEYEVA spoke at an RFE/RL briefing in Washington, D.C., on October 26, discussing the difficulties facing Russian nongovernmental organizations. Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the DEMOS Center for Information and Research, also participated in the briefing.
According to Alekseyeva, who is a regular contributor to RFE/RL's Russian Service, the time in office of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin is considered a "golden age" for Russian NGOs -- even though this is "not [because] Yeltsin was a strong democrat," but rather because "society was left to its own devices and we managed to build civil society" while the "power elites" struggled among themselves and ignored the lower strata. Alekseyeva said Russia has emerged from its economic crises under President Vladimir Putin, but there is "no division of power in Russia under the model of executive vertical controls," where regional governors, a "puppet parliament," and a judiciary "stripped" of independence are under the Kremlin's control. Nonetheless, according to Alekseyeva, Russia is "not returning to Soviet times," because "today the attacks are selective" and "there is now a civil society" to resist the pressure.
Alekseyeva expressed concern that "Western democratic states don't react to attacks on human rights." She said that "in Soviet times, we few dissidents felt enormous Western support." She called that support "our shield," which she said is now missing. The supporters of civil society feel "now abandoned by Western allies," Alekseyeva said.
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