You Give Civil Society a Bad Name
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Say “civil society” and people in South Ossetia would hear “NGO.” Distrust, when not open hostility, towards non-governmental organizations is widespread - a mix of lack of awareness, pressing daily frustration, and government obstacles contribute to skepticism. As a result, NGOs struggle to function, and survive.

In July 2016, South Ossetia adopted amendments to the law regulating NGOs, following Russia’s footsteps over the so-called “law on foreign agents.” The new bill introduced new requirements for all organizations receiving funding from abroad, to register and declare themselves as “foreign agents.” The law made it more difficult for non-profit institutions to participate in international projects, hence hindering many NGOs’ activities.

A bread company is expanding its premises.
An old Soviet sewing factory got a new life after the conflict in 2008.
Ten years ago, pedestrians outnumbered cars in the streets; today it is the opposite as many people have left South Ossetia.
A banner advertises MegaFon, Russia’s third largest mobile operator and the only provider operating in South Ossetia.
The sun is setting over the skeleton of Tskhinvali’s unfinished new university building - a reminder of what the USSR left behind.

There are 232 registered NGOs in South Ossetia according to the Ministry of Justice. The number, however, does not mean that each of them functions and details about what their focus is and what kind of activities they carry out are lacking. Some pay taxes, others have closed doors over the last few years, and a few are involved in court cases. Effectively, however,  only three NGOs have been fully operational in Tskhinvali over the last three years and two of them were closed this year.

Diana Alborova is the founding director of the “Association for Social, Economic and Cultural Development of South Ossetia" (ASECD) which since 1998 has been active in humanitarian aid as well as educational and cultural programs. The enthusiastic 45-year-old gave up operating as it jusr became too unbearable though.


Zarina Sanakoeva is a 30-year-old journalist working for the Russian-language radio service Ekho Kavkaza (Echo of the Caucasus) launched byRadio Liberty in 2009 in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. She is also a determined civic activist, is involved in various NGOs’ initiatives. Sanakoeva maintains that accredited journalists in South Ossetia operate in a climate of silent hostility where an unofficial ban prevents citizens and officials to talk to them.


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