MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - International terrorists carry out recruiting activities in Russia's regions with the support of some foreign non-governmental organizations, the Russian Federal Security Service chief said on Tuesday.
"International terrorists and religious extremists enjoy the support of certain foreign non-governmental organizations when carrying out recruitment activities," Nikolai Patrushev told a session of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NATC).
In late 2005, the Russian parliament passed a Kremlin-sponsored bill preventing foreign NGOs from having branch offices in the country and making Russian groups ineligible for most sources of foreign funding.
"The results of an analysis of the operational situation in the Southern Federal District bear witness to the fact that bandits and their accomplices are endeavoring to swell their ranks by brainwashing young people. Emissaries of foreign terrorist and religious extremist groups are taking advantage of existing socio-economic problems and ethnic and religious discord to carry out recruiting work in this and other Russian regions," Patrushev added.
But NGOs are blamed for recruiting terrorists not only in Russia, but also abroad. Alexander Torshin, deputy speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, said after the NATC meeting on Tuesday:
"Foreign NGOs often become platforms for recruiting terrorists and extremists."
He also said dozens of anti-Russian activities are carried out in Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Turkey, some other Scandinavian, and Baltic states.
Torshin, a NATC member, said another threat was coming from the Internet which is playing an increasingly important role in spreading terrorist ideology.
"While in 1998, only 12 sites supported terrorist organizations on the Internet, some estimates say that today there are 5,000-6,000 of them, including 150 Russian-language sites."
Torshin called for a universal method to be developed to identify and shut down such websites worldwide.
The Russian government has faced criticism from Western leaders for restrictions imposed on rights groups and NGOs operating in the country, and the issue is often cited as an example of Russia's alleged backsliding on democracy.
In January, prosecutors in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, which is part of the Southern Federal District, requested that a British NGO promoting peacekeeping and community development be closed down, saying that its accreditation had expired.