Sunday, June 21, 2020

NGOs in North Caucasus Face Obstacles But Meet Serious Needs

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 18 – Across the North Caucasus, there are hundreds if not thousands of NGOs registered with the authorities. Most are inactive and some exist only in order to extract money from the government.  But dozens of these organizations are active and playing a key role in helping people often on shoestring budgets and despite official opposition.

            Yekaterina Ageyeva, a Moscow specialist on this sector in this region, tells journalist Ravil Safin that the NGOs are today playing many of the roles that nationality-based groups did in the 1990s. Those have become less active, and NGOs are able to get some grants and official support when the others are not (

            The NGO sector despite growth in recent years still forms only about one percent of the Russian economy, and the government via grants needs to do more, Ageyeva says. But it has to be careful because some of the NGOs operating now are doing so only to make money rather than do any good.

            Savin, a journalist for the Caucasus Today portal spoke with the leaders of four NGOs operating in the North Caucasus.  Svetlana Bayrmkulova, head of the My Angel group in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, says her group focuses on children who suffer from genetic diseases and accident and provides what help it can in securing them daily support.

            Members of her group travel through the region to identify children with handicaps who aren’t getting the support they need and working with them to secure such status and the funds it provides as well as working with government and private organizations that may be able to help such children.

            Yekaterina Borisevich, head of the All-Caucasus Youth Training Center works primarily with official agencies to help young people find ways to participate in organized sports activities, something officials see as a means of preventing them from possibly falling under the influence of radical Islamists.

            Her group also provide social and psychological assistance to women and children who have suffered from violence in the home or as a result of their religious convictions. She says that this is one of the most important problems in the republics of the North Caucasus.

            Malikat Dzhabirova, who heads the Mother and Children NGO, says her group’s focus is on young women and on providing them with information they aren’t getting from other sources about their rights, their health, and their defense.  Her group works closely with a similar body in Moscow. If a North Caucasus woman calls there, she is referred to Dzhbirova’s group.

            “We do not have out own crisis center, but we cooperate with various government and non-governmental organizations” that do. Lately, she says, her colleagues have been providing psychological assistance to women who have suffered violence in the home.

            And Elina Slavinskaya, head of the Psyche Group does the same. She points out that now her colleagues are having to deal with panic about the pandemic, not its real dimensions which are bad enough but about rumors that have left many women and children unable to function normally. “This is not a medical factor,” she says; rather it is a “psychological” one.

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