Russian accused of silencing activists up for top U.N. NGO liaison post


A Russian diplomat accused of playing a role in President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on foreign human rights and pro-democracy activists has emerged as a frontrunner for a top job overseeing the U.N.’s relations with civilian advocacy groups, according to several U.N. diplomats, Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch reports:

Sergey Ryabokon, a Russian official who oversaw Moscow’s policy towards foreign civil society organizations in the foreign ministry, is one of the three short-listed candidates who are being considered for the U.N. post. Diplomats describe the job — director of the non-governmental organizations liaison branch — as a mid-level position with outsized importance. It serves as the primary gatekeeper for hundreds of international advocacy groups that are allowed access to the U.N.’s premises and an array of conferences established to address global crises — from global warming, nuclear disarmament, and reproductive rights, to anti-poverty measures and gay rights….

The United States and human rights group have long expressed frustration with the struggle to accredit legitimate advocacy groups to the United Nations. In April 2014, U.S. envoy to the U.N. Samantha Power denounced what she described as authoritarian credentialing by the U.N committee on NGOs after it elected Tehran as a member. The 19-nation committee also includes Azerbaijan, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Sudan, and Venezuela, as well as the United States.

Putin’s years as a KGB officer taught him how to take advantage of others, writes Nina Krushcheva:

In Steven Lee Myers’ excellent new biography, The New Tsar, the former New York Times Moscow bureau chief describes how, when Putin was posted in East Germany in the waning years of communism, he used his opponent’s weaknesses to advance the Soviet cause.
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