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New troubles looming up for NGOs in Chechnya - Secret service is controlling all employees

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, 24. July 2006

New troubles are now threatening all employees of humanitarian and human rights organisations in Chechnya, criticised the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) on Monday. "Although the civilian population is still dependent on aid from outside, the Russian government is making the work of aid organisations more difficult with a new regulation", said the GfbV expert for the Russian Federation, Sarah Reinke. All employees of aid organisations must now obtain a permit for all movements within Chechnya from the Russian security service, reports the news agency Reuter on Monday. Applications for travel must be placed weeks in advance. In addition every employee and also every visitor from outside must be registered by the Russian secret service FSB. All organisations were called on at the beginning of June already to observe this new regulation.

"Human rights workers are being systematically persecuted in Chechnya", said Reinke. At least 13 of them have been murdered since 1994, many have left the country to save their lives. "It does not inspire much confidence if the Russian President Vladimir Putin constantly maintains that there is no more war in Chechnya and at the same times his information blockade seals off the small republic in the north Caucasus." On 18th April 2006 a controversial law came into effect in Russia, ensuring a tighter control of charitable organisations by the state authorities. By the middle of October NGOs operating in Russia must register afresh in accordance with the new NGO law.

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