Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 3

The first victims of the new NGO law appear to be several foreign groups operating in Ingushetia. The Moscow Times reported on January 18 that the federal Prosecutor General’s Office had announced that two foreign NGOs providing humanitarian assistance to refugees in the North Caucasus had been banned from operating in Ingushetia. The newspaper cited a statement posted on the website of the Ingush regional prosecutor’s office on January 10—the day Putin signed the NGO bill—announcing that a British organization, the Center for Peacekeeping and Community Development (CPCD), and a German organization, HELP/Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe, had been banned from working in Ingushetia after the republic’s Supreme Court ruled that they were operating without proper authorization. Yet Ingushetian Supreme Court judge Maria Korikova was quoted as saying that the announcement that HELP had been banned from Ingushetia was false and that regional prosecutors had dropped their investigation of the German NGO in November after its accreditation was found to be valid. The Ingush prosecutor’s office announcement said a third NGO, the U.S.-based International Medical Corps (IMC), was under investigation, but Korikova told the Moscow Times said she had no information about that probe.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 17 that HELP and IMC were continuing to work normally and without interruption. The website quoted staffers of the two organizations as saying that all their necessary documentation, including accreditation, was in order and that they had not received complaints from prosecutors.

The BBC reported on January 17 that the Center for Peacekeeping and Community Development has been supporting schools attended by about 1,000 Chechen refugee children in Ingushetia and has helped to distribute UN humanitarian aid. The International Medical Corps website (imcworldwide.org) says the group began working with Chechen refugees in Ingushetia in spring 2000 and for the past two years “has continued to provide emergency medical assistance to thousands of displaced Chechens, as well as host families, in village clinics and at spontaneous settlements on farms and in abandoned factories and buildings in Ingushetia.” According to the IMC, living conditions in the Ingushetian refugee settlements “remain appalling, fueling disease and despair amongst the thousands of war-traumatized Chechens who reside there.” HELP/Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe, according to its website (help-ev.de), has assisted thousands of people in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan who have been displaced by the Chechen war, providing them with food and other types of assistance. In the days immediately following the Beslan school hostage tragedy, HELP, at the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), distributed 970 mattresses to the hospitals and clinics where Beslan victims were taken.