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Russian human rights activists alarmed with State Duma MP attacks on NGOs

MOSCOW. March 20 (Interfax) - United Russia MPs have been accusing ever more frequently nongovernmental organizations operating in Russia, said the leader of the oldest Russian human rights organization, Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

"They seem to be seeking both a foreign and an internal enemy, other than to attend to real problems," Alexeyeva told Interfax on Friday.

At the State Duma session on Friday, United Russia MP Sergei Zheleznyak said that recently "independent nongovernmental organizations have intensified their work seeking to use social protests under conditions of the world financial crisis in order to destabilize the domestic political situation."

On Wednesday, United Russia MPs also attacked NGOs supported with foreign funds and linked them to protest actions in the Far East.

"This old idea is obvious: they seek to convince our citizens that foreign enemies are to blame for all problems, the 'world backstage' and the fifth column inside Russia. In their view, the fifth column does not include, for example fascists and skinheads, but it does include democrats, opposition and NGO activists," she said.

MP Zheleznyak told the State Duma that one of the NGOs supported by foreign funding is the Collective Action Institute headed by Karin Kleman, a foreign citizen.