Sunday, January 30, 2011

Russian NGOs: Fighting Inequality

While researching NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) in Russia, I came across some very interesting information. The basic gist of an NGO is that it is dedicated to a certain issue area and is typically funded in equal parts by foreign donations and communities within Russia. There are currently over 240,000 NGOs in Russia that support issues in culture (museums and author rights), education (student international exchanges), environment (World Wildlife Foundation and various conservation groups), gay rights, health, women (targeted towards domestic violence issues), the media (rights for journalists and radio broadcasters), and other organizations that aid an array of issues: financial and economic problems, global affairs, and most centered on research.
However, the most controversial category for NGOs is the Human Rights section. In the North-Caucasus region of Russia, there is much unrest over human rights affairs. In January 2009, a well-known human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered. In the summer of 2009, 3 local civic activists were abducted and killed. And finally in July, a human rights defender, Natalya Estemirova was abducted and killed; she worked mainly with Chechen cases. This is only a small fraction of those who have lost their lives due to the fight for equality and justice. While there continues to be unrest among these areas, other NGOs function as normal (mainly in the northwest of Russia). They serve thousands of people across the nation and provide support for many searching for justice.

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