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Russian Security Chief Lodges Spying Accusations

Moscow, 12 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's security chief says his agency has uncovered U.S., British, Kuwaiti, and Saudi spying activities that are being conducted under the cover of nongovernmental organizations, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported.

The allegation was made today in the State Duma by Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Patrushev suggested that foreign countries are using NGOs to influence Russian political and economic activity and support changes in the power structures of former Soviet republics.

Patrushev said those responsible for organizing the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine are now preparing a similar revolt in Belarus.

He named the Peace Corps -- which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations -- as well as the British medical charity Merlin, the Saudi Red Crescent and a Kuwaiti group he called the Society of Social Reforms.

In Washington, Peace Corps spokeswoman Barbara Daly dismissed Patrushev's charges as "completely baseless, without merit and not true." Merlin also denied the allegations.

Patrushev also accused the International Republican Institute, a U.S. pro-democracy group, of earmarking $5 million to finance the Belarusian opposition this year.