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Russia’s Says NGOs in Central Asia ‘Have Stepped Up Anti-Russian Activities’

Moscow (28/2).      

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that non-governmental organizations in Central Asia have stepped up their anti-Russian activities amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army. Shoigu said this at the board of the Russian Ministry of Defense on February 27.

According to him, there are more than 100 “large pro-Western non-governmental organisations” operating in Central Asia, which have more than 16,000 representative offices and branches.

“Against the backdrop of the special military operation, these NGOs have significantly increased their anti-Russian activities in order to reduce military-technical, economic and cultural cooperation between the Central Asian states and Russia. We are taking preventive measures,” Shoigu said, but did not say what measures are being taken.

In addition, the head of the Ministry of Defense added that this year in Central Asia, the main efforts will be aimed at resolving crisis situations in the countries of the region and participating in seven exercises in the territories of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. “The result of the training of the troops will be the training of the CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Forces “Interaction-2024″, in which military contingents of five states will take part,” he said.

In Russia, the so-called “foreign agents” law has been in force for more than 10 years. The law allowed the Russian Ministry of Justice to designate NGOs as “foreign agents” if they received funding from abroad and, in their opinion, engaged in political activities. Since the criteria by which political activity is defined are not clearly defined in the law, the document allowed the Russian authorities to prosecute organizations working in the fields of education, culture, health, ecology and human rights. As a result, many NGOs in Russia have been closed down or their activities have been severely restricted.

Russia views Central Asia as its traditional zone of influence. Five countries in the region were part of the Soviet Union. A number of experts believe that Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine has weakened Moscow’s influence in Central Asia, where China, Western countries and other players are seeking to strengthen their presence.

The second topic of discussion at the meeting of the Board was the implementation of the Action Plan of the Eastern Military District.

“Washington continues to use the growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the area of the island of Taiwan as a pretext for expanding the presence of groups of troops in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. This year, the scope of joint exercises of the United States and its allies is expected to increase due to the military potential of NATO member countries,” the head of the Russian military department said.

In order to strengthen the military security of the eastern borders of the Russian Federation, measures are being taken to build up the combat capabilities of the Eastern Military District.

As part of the state defense order in 2024, it is planned to supply more than 200 units of modern and modernized equipment, including the Tornado-S MLRS, Tor-M2 anti-aircraft missile systems and Typhoon armoured combat vehicles.

The main efforts will be focused on the training of reserve battalions, as well as the training of junior specialists and operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Also, the troops of the district will take part in four joint international exercises, where the armed forces of Mongolia, India, Laos and Vietnam will be involved.