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10 june

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“International terrorism can no longer be characterized by one-off actions” — Sergey Ordzhonikidze

The Strategy to Counter Extremism in the Russian Federation until 2025 was discussed at the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation

“International terrorism can no longer be characterized by one-off actions” — Sergey Ordzhonikidze

The contribution of the regional civic chambers in implementing the provisions of the Strategy to Combat Extremism in the Russian Federation until 2025 was discussed at the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on June 10.

The President of the Russian Federation signed a Decree approving the new version of the Strategy to Combat Extremism until 2025.
 
The document stipulates that implementing the strategy should be carried out not only by counter-extremism divisions in line with their competence, but also by civil society institutions.
 
“The strategy lays out that civil society institutions (including veteran and youth organizations), whose activities are aimed at preventing extremist manifestations, are to receive state support. Emphasis is also placed on the patriotic education of citizens, thereby ensuring unity of the multinational peoples of Russia, creating an atmosphere of intolerance for extremist activity and rejecting all extremist ideologies and violence in order to achieve political, ideological and religious goals, among others,” said Sergey Ordzhonikidze, Deputy Secretary of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador.
 
He noted that the economic crisis caused by the pandemic reduced the well-being and level of social protection of a large number of people in several countries with some citizens losing their jobs. “The current situation is fertile ground for the growth of drug trafficking and crime in general, the development of illegal migration and extremism, as well as the intensification of terrorist organizations.”

“At the same time, when it comes to international terrorism we can no longer talk about disastrous, one-off actions. Today we are talking about the creation of mafia-like territorial entities as was the case in Syria and Iraq, and now we are observing the same situation in Afghanistan,” said Sergey Ordzhonikidze.

According to him, the terrorist formations pay special attention to the propaganda of extremist ideology and the recruitment of followers on the Internet. “They create their media outlets on a professional basis, working through specialized websites and social media accounts that post materials in various languages of the world, primarily in Arabic, English and Russian. Ideological brainwashing of citizens and recruitment are also carried out in prisons,” he stated.

Sergey Ordzhonikidze stressed that the Civic Chamber Coordinating Council for Combating Terrorism had been conducting relevant educational activities for five years. “Avoiding indoctrination or, more simply speaking, brainwashing amongst prisoners can only be done by conducting educational activities on the part of public and religious organizations. Last year, the Council prepared and published a collection of legal acts which serves as a good information source for anyone who ends up in prison,” he added.

The Deputy Chairman of the Civic Chamber Commission on Harmonization of Interethnic and Interreligious Relations Albir Krganov noted that the new strategy reflected the whole spectrum of destructive formations in the extremist sector, at the same time highlighting specific topics and identifying new pressing problems.

He emphasized that a great deal of attention in the strategy was devoted to revealing instances of spreading radical ideology in the media and on the Internet as a whole.

As for the migration policy, he noted that, instead of improving deportation mechanisms and strengthening border controls (as was laid out in the previous strategy), the new strategy aimed to improve migrant adaptation programmes; address issues of spatial segregation; form ethnic enclaves; counter the social exclusion of certain citizen groups; and also attract civil society institutions in order to comprehensively inform the public about migration procedures as well as confront hateful, hostile and false information about them.

Albir Krganov highlighted a separate paragraph in the document stating that internal threats also included interethnic and territorial contradictions as well as conflicts in individual constituent entities of the Russian Federation caused by historical and socio-economic factors.

“The strategy has been drafted correctly, but it also needs to be fully implemented. And our regional civic chambers could play an important coordinating role, taking up part of this work and interacting with state authorities and public institutions. The principles of the strategy need to be implemented so that they can primarily benefit not only Russian citizens, but also have a positive impact on the entire migration policy,” said Albir Krganov.

The division head of the Center for Countering Extremism under the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow Alexander Bogunov reported that recently there had been an increase in the number of people trying to recruit citizens into extremist activities and terrorist organizations. According to him, one of the most frequent manifestations of extremism is the creation of pseudo-religious organizations.

He noted that recruiters target not only young people but middle-aged people as well that is why educational work must also be carried out with them.

“The most important thing is preventive work on the Internet and work with people who are just starting to show interest in religion and start attending mosques so that they do not come under the influence of the wrong interpretation of religion and do not deviate from its true direction,” he said.

According to Valery Vasiliev, member of the Civic Chamber Commission on Security and Cooperation with Public Monitoring Commissions, the discussed Strategy for Combating Extremism is different from other similar documents as it “has a whole section devoted to the role of civil society institutions in combating extremism in the country.”

“The authorities finally realized the importance of the public in activities aimed at preventing and combatting extremism. The importance of patriotic education of citizens with regard to solving this problem is especially emphasized. The document is extremely important today, given the difficult situation that is developing around the world. In this context, I consider it necessary for regional civic chambers not only to discuss this approach, but also to develop measures, maybe even a specific programme for participation in implementing the Strategy,” he was quoted as saying.

Olga Zagvyazinskaya, member of the new, seventh Civic Chamber convocation, Adviser to the Rector of Tyumen State University, Associate Professor at the Department of Criminal Law and Procedure, who has worked on preventing extremism and radicalism for several decades, shared examples of regional practices implemented in Tyumen Region.

“One of the tools for preventive work is the website ‘Antiterror’ part of the corporate portal of Tyumen State University. The resource contains a significant amount of practical information (guidelines, photos, audio, video, visual representations, etc.), actively used in preventive work and for the purpose of increasing the level of legal literacy for all interested parties. There is a special feedback form on the ‘Antiterror’ website #HELPME where anyone can voice their concerns, make comments and suggestions regarding security at the university. The section also contains telephones of emergency services and departments that citizens must contact in the event of a terrorist threat,” she said.

While delivering her speech Olga Zagvyazinskaya cited another challenge of our time – the threat of bioterrorism. “I have with me a monographic publication ‘Biological Safety.’ The book was written back in 2006 and was published by Medicine publishing house by a team of authors led by then Chief Sanitary Doctor of Russia Gennady Onishchenko. The main point of the serious study is that not only humanity must be protected from viruses and pathogens, but viruses and pathogens themselves must be protected from humanity.”

“A potential threat to national security is the deliberate use by terrorists of natural or artificially created (genetically engineered or transgenic) biological agents (dangerous bacteria and viruses or toxins of bacterial and plant origin) to infect people, animals and plants in order to undermine the economy and disable military units, put pressure on prominent political and government figures, as well as provoke panic in society. The unpredictability of bioterrorist attacks in terms of time, motive, target and the biological agent used highlights this problem in Russia's biological security sector as a whole, taking into account socio-political instability within the country and the surrounding multipolar world,” quoted Olga Zagvyazinskaya from the study.

She suggested discussing at the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation precisely these issues connected with bioterrorism, at the forefront of the extremist threat to humanity.

Sergey Ordzhonikidze agreed with Olga Zagvyazinskaya and stated that biosafety risks were among the most urgent threats facing Russia.

“Pentagon biological laboratories can be found along the borders of Russia and also in the former Soviet republics. The United States does not answer our official queries about what is going on there. One can only wonder why they have been set up. This is a matter of both domestic and international security, and I think special attention should be paid in this regard. Because, if something happens there, COVID-19 may seem like a light case for us,” concluded Sergey Ordzhonikidze.

Tags: Valery Vasiliev, Albir Krganov, Sergey Ordzhonikidze

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