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.
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.
This material may contain terms, which are not favored by all the parties of the dispute/conflict. Terms used in a material belong to the author and not Chai-Khana.