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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#12 - JRL 2006-24- JRL Home
From: Eugene Ivanov (eugene_ivanov@comcast.net)
Subject: The spy scandal and the future of Russias NGOs
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006

Now that the spy-rock/NGO-funding scandal has erupted, its easier to understand certain events in the recent past. For example, its easier now to figure out why the FSB has been so adamant in insisting that a score of Russias NGOs were taking money from foreign intelligence sources. The FSB simply had it and was waiting for a call to go public.

Its also easier to see why the controversial NGO bill was so broadly supported in the Duma. All four parliamentary parties have endorsed the bill, and it was aggressively defended by United Russias deputies, whose liberal credentials are otherwise unquestionable. It seems quite obvious now that the Kremlin had shared the FSB information with the Duma leadership beforehand. Having sold the case to the Duma, the Kremlin is now selling it to the rest of the country and to the rest of the world.

The effect of the scandal on the future of Russias human rights movement is likely to be mixed. Lyudmila Alexeeevas personal integrity is above anyones criticism, and the funding fumble, however unfortunate, will hardly seriously tarnish her reputation. But for the rest of the crowd, especially the younger generation, the outcome may turn out differently. There is an old story about a gentleman whose coat was once stolen in a club. Many years later, no one in this club remembered what had happened, yet the gentleman was treated with suspicion because his name was associated with something improper.

Regardless of the British moneys destination and the legality of the transfer, the authorities will make sure that the mud from the alleged MI6-NGO connection sticks. Human rights activists claim of the Kremlins smear campaign will certainly hit their target audience, the West, but will as certainly be lost with ordinary Russians. In their eyes, the NGO community will be guilty by improper association.