May 12, 2005: Headlines: COS - Russia: Intelligence Issues: Times Picayune: Russia's security chief accused U.S. and other foreign intelligence services of using non-governmental organizations and said the groups included the Peace Corps which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Russia: Peace Corps Russia : The Peace Corps in Russia: February 9, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Departure from Russia : May 12, 2005: Headlines: COS - Russia: Intelligence Issues: Times Picayune: Russia's security chief accused U.S. and other foreign intelligence services of using non-governmental organizations and said the groups included the Peace Corps which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-245-37.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.245.37) on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 3:03 pm: Edit Post

Russia's security chief accused U.S. and other foreign intelligence services of using non-governmental organizations and said the groups included the Peace Corps which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations

Russia's security chief accused U.S. and other foreign intelligence services of using non-governmental organizations and said the groups included the Peace Corps  which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations

Russia's security chief accused U.S. and other foreign intelligence services of using non-governmental organizations and said the groups included the Peace Corps which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations

Russia accuses foreign agencies of spying
5/12/2005, 9:55 p.m. CT
By STEVE GUTTERMAN
The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) Russia's security chief accused U.S. and other foreign intelligence services Thursday of using non-governmental organizations that promote democracy to spy on Russia and bring about political upheaval in former Soviet republics.

The remarks by an ally of President Vladimir Putin reflect concern in the Kremlin over its waning regional clout following the ascent of pro-Western governments on its borders.

"Along with classic forms of influence on political and economic processes, foreign intelligence agencies are ever more actively using non-traditional methods," including working through "various non-governmental organizations," Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev told lawmakers.

"Under cover of implementing humanitarian and educational programs in Russian regions, they lobby the interests of the states in question and gather classified information on a broad spectrum of issues," he said.

Patrushev reiterated claims by Russian officials who have accused the United States and other Western nations of using government-funded groups to aid opposition forces that have brought down governments in former Soviet republics in the past two years.

Groups Patrushev accused of involvement in espionage including the Peace Corps denied the allegations. And White House press secretary Scott McClellan said he was not aware of the accusations by Russia's security chief. "I have not seen those comments and I have no idea what he is referring to," McClellan said.

Just this week, President Bush visited Georgia, site of the 2003 Rose Revolution first of the uprisings against entrenched leaders in ex-Soviet republics that later spread to Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. On Monday, Bush stood beside Putin in Red Square for a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

"Our opponents are steadily and persistently trying to weaken Russian influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States and the international arena as a whole," Patrushev said. "The latest events in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan unambiguously confirm this."

With Bush joining domestic critics who question Putin's tightened control over electoral processes in Russia and pointedly advocating democracy in visits to Russia's neighbors, the Kremlin is sensitive about foreign influence as elections approach in 2007 and 2008.

Russian politicians have claimed that U.S. government money, funneled through NGOs that promote democracy, was a major force behind the protests that swept Western-leaning opposition leaders to power in Georgia and Ukraine, and was also a factor in Kyrgyzstan.

U.S. officials say the programs of American groups whose activities include providing election training, underwriting exit polls and supporting independent media are not interference, but acknowledge that some of the money has helped opposition groups.

Patrushev suggested Russia believes the next Western target is Moscow ally Belarus, where U.S. officials have not masked their disgust at authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Bush has called Belarus the last dictatorship in Europe, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was time for a change in the country, where a presidential election is to be held next year.

Patrushev said the International Republican Institute, a group that promotes democracy and gets most of its money from the U.S. government, held a meeting in Slovakia last month during which "the possibility of continuing 'velvet revolutions' on the post-Soviet space was discussed." He also claimed $5 million was earmarked for IRI funding of opposition groups in Belarus this year.

IRI spokeswoman Lisa Gates said in Washington that the organization spends about $500,000 annually on programs in Belarus and that none of it goes to political parties. She said the IRI's Eurasia division had held a staff retreat in Slovakia and discussed "program initiatives."

The IRI received $25.9 million in 2003 to encourage democracy in Ukraine and more than 50 other countries.

Patrushev said his agency, which is known by its Russian acronym FSB and is the main successor to the Soviet KGB, "has prevented a series of espionage operations carried out through foreign non-governmental organizations."

He said the groups included the Peace Corps which pulled out of Russia in 2003 amid FSB spying allegations as well as the British medical charity Merlin, the "Saudi Red Crescent" and a Kuwaiti group he called the Society of Social Reforms.

In Washington, Peace Corps spokeswoman Barbara Daly dismissed Patrushev's charges as "completely baseless" and untrue. She said 700 volunteers served in Russia since the program was started in 1993, mainly as teachers of English and business education.

A spokeswoman for Merlin in London said the group denied any involvement in espionage. She said Merlin had worked in Russia since 1996, fighting tuberculosis.

Although the FSB routinely claims to have uncovered spying by foreign countries, including the United States, Patrushev's comments underline the wariness of foreigners among Russian security officials who have gained influence under Putin a longtime KGB officer and former FSB chief.

It was the latest remark from a top official assailing civil society groups in Russia, which Putin criticized last year as often being more interested in foreign funding than in helping Russians. Patrushev called for tighter legislation governing NGOs, saying current laws were insufficient to stem foreign NGO activity "that damages the security of our country."

Russian security services have long expressed alarm over U.S. NGOs, and Moscow has frequently expelled foreigners considered a threat to the nation, including missionaries and Peace Corps volunteers. Patrushev accused Peace Corps volunteers of spying in 2002, and that year Russia refused to extend volunteers' visas or issue new ones forcing the program to shut down.





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Story Source: Times Picayune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Russia; Intelligence Issues

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