FSB: Nazran-based Rights Group Funded by “Foreign Extremists”

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 13

Kavkazky Uzel reported on April 2 that the Federal Security Service (FSB) directorate in Ingushetia claimed that “foreign extremists” are funding the Chechen National Salvation Committee (ChKNS), the Nazran-based human rights group. For that reason, the FSB last August ordered a probe of the committee by the Federal Registration Service (Rosregistratsiya) for Ingushetia.

ChKNS Chairman Ruslan Badalov told Kavkazky Uzel that the FSB’s suspicions were stated in a letter that the head of the FSB directorate in Ingushetia, Colonel Igor Bondarev, sent to Rosregistratsiya’s branch in Ingushetia, which was made available during a Nazran District Court hearing on April 1 devoted to a complaint brought by the ChKNS against Rosregistratsiya. According to Badalov, the republican FSB chief asserted in the letter that the ChKNS, “under the cover of human rights activities,” collects “negative material about the socio-economic and political situation in Ingushetia” that is subsequently published “in a deliberately distorted form” on the opposition Ingushetiya.ru website. Bondarev further claimed that information analyzed by the FSB found that the ChKNS is the main source of information for Ingushetiya.ru, which he described as having “a strikingly pronounced anti-Russian character” and being “aimed at discrediting the initiatives of the federal center for stabilizing the socio-political situation in the republic and the region in general.”

Bondarev also said in the letter that given that the ChKNS receives grants from “international structures,” he could not rule out that it had received funds from “foreign extremist organizations” and had asked the Rosregistratsiya branch in Ingushtetia to investigate. The ChKNS receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy.

The Kasparov.ru website on April 3 quoted ChKNS staffers as expressing “bewilderment” over the FSB’s charge that the committee is financed by “foreign extremist organizations.” One staffer noted that the committee lives off donations and suggested that the FSB is unhappy over the fact that the committee posts information about murders and abductions in Ingushetia on its website, Savechechny.narod.ru. The lawyer for Ingushetiya.ru, Kaloi Akhilgov, was quoted as saying: “The statements by the [Ingush] prosecutor about closing the ‘Ingushetiya.ru’ website, the criminal case brought against the website last year and these statements by the FSB—all of this has a common hidden motive; it is all political.” According to Kasparov.ru, Akhilgov said the Ingush authorities probably did not like the fact that the ChKNS is not afraid to speak the truth about the situation in Ingushetia.

On March 18, the Russian Supreme Court rejected a suit brought by the Ingush prosecutor’s office to close the Ingushetiya.ru website for allegedly stirring up national hatred and enmity in the republic. Ingushetia’s Supreme Court had earlier rejected a similar suit, stating that it did not have jurisdiction over Ingushetiya.ru because the website is registered in the United States (Chechnya Weekly, March 20). Yet Ingushetia’s prosecutor, Yury Turygin, has filed suit against Ingushetiya.ru yet again, this time asking the Moscow City Court to close the website for its alleged incitement of inter-ethnic hatred. Turygin claims the Moscow City Court has jurisdiction in the case because Ingushetiya.ru’s owner, Magomed Yevloev, lives in the Russian capital. The court will consider the suit on April 11. The website’s lawyer, Kaloi Akhilgov, said he is certain that this suit will also be overturned.

Gazeta.ru reported on April 3 that the office of Ingushetia’s prosecutor fined the editor of Ingushetiya.ru, Rosa Malsagova, 4,000 rubles (nearly $170) for false advertising. According to the office, prosecutors found an item posted on Ingushetiya.ru about Putin and Medvedev visiting a Cossack military school in Rostov-on-Don. In it, the website reported that when the current president and president-elect visited a computer class in the school, they found one of the cadets reading the Ingushetiya.ru website. Yet the prosecutors found an item on the Kremlin website that covered Putin’s visit to the Cossack military school and was accompanied by a photograph of him and a cadet looking at the Yandex.ru website, not Ingushetiya.ru. On this basis, the prosecutors fined Ingushetiya.ru’s editor for false advertising.

Meanwhile, Gazeta.ru reported on April 2 that the Nazran District Court rejected criminal charges brought against Ingushetiya.ru owner Magomed Yevloev by the Investigative Committee’s main investigative directorate for the Southern Federal District for Yevloev’s alleged involvement in organizing disturbances connected to an abortive opposition protest in Nazran on January 26. Several buildings were set ablaze during those disorders. Yevloev said that those responsible for the arson were “provocateurs acting in the interests of the authorities” (Chechnya Weekly, January 31).