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NGOs Protest Kyrgyzstan's Move To Supervise Them

Agence France Presse

February 1, 2006

More than a 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) sent a letter Wednesday to Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiev to protest the "destructive" decision of the Ministry of Justice to strictly supervise foreign-funded NGOs.

"We consider that the decision of Minister of Justice Marat Kaipov is above all aimed at the destruction of annoying NGOs," the signatories said.

Kaipov last week announced that wide-ranging supervision of foreign financed NGOs would be carried out by the National Security Service, which replaced the KGB.

Taking its lead from government declarations, the local state-controlled media has started to portray the NGOs as agents of the West.

"An information campaign is being led against us with the aim of showing that civil society is a puppet of the West," said Edil Baisalov, who heads the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, one of the most respected NGOs in the country.

Kaipov responded to criticism of his initiative, saying that "threats to the national security of Kyrgyzstan existed," specifically citing Islamic terrorism.

The main Kyrgyz NGOs -- which played a key role in the March 2005 revolution that toppled the regime of Askar Akayev and installed Bakiev as the new president -- said Kaipov's clamp down is aimed at sidelining them.

"I believe it is a copy of the decision by the Russian president (Vladimir Putin)," said Baisalov.

The much criticized Russian law on NGOs, allowing the state to strictly supervise their activities, is due to take effect in April.

Many Kyrgyz organisations have called for the resignation of the head of the National Security Service, Tashtemir Aitbayev, who they say is behind the attack on the NGOs.

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