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Cablegate: Russian Fm Turns Down Request to Authorize Czech

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPG #1753 3551615
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211615Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6759
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0666

UNCLAS PRAGUE 001753

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EZ PREL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN FM TURNS DOWN REQUEST TO AUTHORIZE CZECH
NGO

1. (U) The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has, for
the time being, refused a request from his Czech counterpart,
Cyril Svoboda, to renew the registration of the Czech NGO,
People in Need (PIN). PIN had been operating in Chechnya
since 2000. But In April, 2005, PIN was told, without any
explanation why, that its accreditation would not be renewed.
PIN closed up shop in July, terminating some programs and
turning others over to local NGOs.

2. (SBU) PIN's Director Simon Panek told the Embassy that
during its five years in Chechnya, the FSB (former KGB)
tried very hard to find evidence that PIN was linked to
Chechen separatists. Panek said that PIN had rented or
leased more than 50 buildings for its various programs. One
of those buildings was a small house in Grozny used for
women's classes and it was in this house that the brother of
a local PIN employee was captured by Russian authorities.
The brother was allegedly a Chechen terrorist and was,
according to Panek, killed. Panek says PIN was unaware that
the brother had been hiding in the basement of the house.
Panek believes that the Russian government was looking for
some reason to shut down the NGO and that this incident was
merely a pretext.

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3. (U) According to Czech media, Lavrov said he did not
want to accuse PIN of anything while an investigation was
being conducted. He is quoted as saying that it was possible
the Czech NGO had chosen untrustworthy staff for its programs.

4. (SBU) Panek praised the Czech MFA, particularly Deputy
Foreign Minister, and former Czech Ambassador in Moscow,
Jaroslav Basta, who, according to Panek stood up to the FSB
and demanded that they show evidence that PIN is linked to
terrorism. FM Svoboda and Deputy FM Tomas Pojar have also
raised the issue with Russian officials. Panek will appear
on Russian radio this week to try to demonstrate that PIN is
a legitimate NGO which only wants to help. Panek says the EU
Commission has provided some support and added he would love
to see the US weigh in as well. Panek still harbors some,
admittedly slight, hope that accreditation could be renewed
if the investigation shows PIN was not deliberately or
knowingly sheltering a terrorist.
MUNTER

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