Terrorism problem in belarus

terrorism problem in belarus

Following the recent amendments to its law on the death penalty, Belarus could execute over 60 people on terrorist charges. Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Belarus, attacks cannot be ruled out. UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on. Terrorism. While there have been no recent terrorist attacks in Belarus, they can still happen. Terrorism is a threat worldwide. More.

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Lukashenko Went From Dictator to Terrorist: Belarus Opposition

Terrorism problem in belarus - point

Belarus to expand use of death penalty. Democratic forces, rail guerrillas under threat

Belarus' parliament approved a bill on May 4 to amend the country’s criminal code, introducing capital punishment for acts of "attempted terrorism."

Previously, the death penalty was assigned to those that committed terrorist acts that resulted in casualties.

Belarus’ State Security Committee, or KGB, has a long list of alleged “terrorists,” which include the “guerrillas” that disrupted the country’s national railway earlier in 2022, which means that the new legislation serves to further intimidate those that oppose Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe to impose capital punishment. While human rights activists had hoped for a moratorium on the practice prior to 2020, its application has now broadened.

Actively opposing Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine may now lead to death.

Supporting Ukraine – terrorism

The amendment to Belarus' criminal code was likely prompted by the ongoing sabotage attempts on its national railroads, which have been used extensively by the Russian military.

Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine on Feb. 24, invading it from four main routes. One of these routes passes through Belarusian territory from the north and uses the country’s railroads to transport supplies and ammunition.

Having crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border and moved swiftly towards Kyiv, Russian troops were able to reach the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital within the first weeks of the war.

Lukashenko’s regime supports Russia’s war, allowing the country to be drawn into the deadly conflict. Russian artillery and missile systems are stationed on Belarusian territory, directly targeting Ukrainian cities. 

However, not everyone in Belarus agrees with Lukashenko’s decision to assist Russia in war.

Since the beginning of the war, Belarus’ national railway has reported two cyberattacks targeting its internal networks, which paralyzed its automated operations for two weeks. 

Belarus' Ministry of Internal Affairs has reported at least six diversions on different segments of the railroad.

The "railway guerrillas" burned down relay panels, slowing down the movement of trains loaded with weapons, in some cases stopping them entirely.

Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukraine’s Ukrzaliznytsia state-owned railway company, recognized these acts as significant contributions towards inhibiting the Russian offensive from the north. 

Meanwhile, Belarus labeled them acts of terrorism, having arrested nearly 60 citizens, one of which was brutally shot in the knees. 

Belarusian pro-Lukashenko lawmaker Marina Lenchevskaya justified the amendment to the capital punishment bill by equating the saboteurs to terrorists in her interview with a state-controlled TV channel.

“This measure is absolutely adequate, given a significant number of terrorist aspirations against critical facilities, infrastructure: transport, military, energy facilities,” Lenchevskaya said.

Destroying opposition

In addition to the railroad saboteurs, at least 26 people recognized as political prisoners by various human rights groups have been charged with attempted terrorism.

Furthermore, Belarus’ KGB lists 42 Belarusian citizens and three organizations as being "involved in terrorism activities.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushko, as well as the NEXTA Telegram channel which serves as a mouthpiece for anti-government protests, are among them.

Presenting evidence of attempted terrorism is difficult, especially when it comes to politically-motivated cases such as those in Belarus.

However, this does not seem to be a problem for Belarusian authorities.

“These are such times in which there is no time for laws,”Lukashenko said in Sept. 2020, amid the then-ongoing protests sparked by the strongman’s fraudulent victory of the 2020 Belarusian presidential elections.

Belarusian human rights watchdog Viasna reported 33,000 administrative detentions and arrests in 2020 alone. 

Many cases were ruled based on the testimonies of witnesses, many of which were “classified” law enforcement personnel that testified in court with faces covered by balaclavas and their names undisclosed.

The alleged witnesses often made factual errors in their testimonies.

Cases against high-profile opposition leaders, such as Viktor Babariko, remain classified. 

Bound by a non-disclosure agreement and unable to expose the terms of the accusation, Dmitriy Layevskiy, one of Babariko’s attorneys, dubbed the process illegitimate. 

"These kinds of cases are easy to falsify,” said Mykhail Kyrylyuk, the chief lawyer in charge at NAU, a democratic movement led by Latushko.

"If we open the KGB list of people involved in terrorist activities, it is obvious that these people did not blow anyone up. Not a single completed terrorist act can be presented,” Kyrylyuk told Zerkalo, an independent news outlet.

“But they can falsify an incomplete terrorist act,” he adds. “It has nothing to do with jurisprudence. It is to intimidate people.”

As of May 10, 1,186 political prisoners remain in custody.

The bill has yet to be checked for constitutional compliance by the Constitutional Court and awaits a presidential signature. Very few doubt that Lukashenko will approve it.

Maria Yeryoma
Author: Maria Yeryoma

Maria Yeryoma is a Belarusian media manager and a contributing author at the Kyiv Independent. She recently led the commercial "special projects" at TUT.BY — the biggest independent online media in the country. In May 2021, TUT.BY was raided by Belarus authorities leaving 15 employees in custody and forcing the team to leave the country to continue their work. Maria moved to Kyiv and helped establishing a new media outlet — Zerkalo.

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Reframing Threats from Migrants in Europe

Graig R. Klein13 Dec 2021

 

Keywords:Domestic Terrorism, Refugees, Forced Migrants, Nationalism, Political Violence, Social Perception, Securitisation Discourse

Since 2011 the global refugee population has steadily increased each year. Traditionally, refugees were associated with suffering, despair, and humanitarian support, but recently there is a significant growth in the securitisation of refugees and related policy and political discourse. As a result, fears and threat perception of refugees bringing crime and violence can overpower desires to provide safety and assistance. Examples of this were rampant as Syrians refugees fled civil war and ISIS to be met with skepticism and hostility across much of Europe in the mid-2010s. Similar rhetoric and fears have been applied in the U.S., Germany, the EU more broadly to Afghan refugees who were frantically fleeing the Taliban. Haitian refugees flocking to the U.S.-Mexico border also triggered securitisation discourse and perceived threat.

In this context, the securitisation discourse frames the refugee as the source or threat of violence. This is particularly true of the relationship between refugees and terrorism. But this overlooks the conditions refugees enter in host-countries. In other words, while securitisation discourse associates refugees with an increased threat of terrorism in host-countries, could the increased threat instead come from within host-countries? My new research says yes.

Others’ research shows that pre-existing ethnic or demographic tensions in host-countries, or when refugees’ integration is inhibited by legal and social institutions, the risk of terrorism increases. My research shifts our attention away from these formal or institutional processes to explore how individuals’ attitudes about having foreign-born neighbours shapes the risk of terrorism when refugees enter a host-country. I specifically analyse domestic terrorism because host-country nationals, and not refugees, can commit this type of reactionary violence in response to changes in refugee flow and perceived threats.

My findings are based on statistical analyses of refugee flows, domestic terrorism, and neighbourhood demographic preferences in a global sample of countries from 1995-2014. As expected, during refugee inflows, individuals’ acceptance of foreign-born neighbours plays a significant role in changing a host-country’s risk of domestic terrorism. The larger the percentage of a host-country population that prefers to not have foreign-born neighbours, the greater the likelihood of domestic terrorism when refugees enter the country. If this conditioning effect is omitted from the analysis, I find that refugee inflows tend to not impact the risk of domestic terrorism.

In this Perspective, I apply the lessons learned from my research on refugees and terrorism to the current migrant crisis in Belarus. Although refugees and migrants are definitionally different, similar securitisation frames and discourse, and threat perception political rhetoric have been applied to the thousands of migrants trapped on the border between Belarus and the European Union (EU)[i]

To analyse the impact this migrant flow could have on domestic terrorism risk in Belarus’ EU neighbours, I replicate my original statistical analyses using newly released data from European Values Survey to measure host-country attitudes about foreign-born neighbours. I substitute refugee data with government reports of the number of migrants who have already crossed, attempted to cross, and have been pushed back from Belarus’ borders with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. I find that the migrant influx, so feared in much of the political discourse, poses little direct threat to national security. At least in terms of domestic terrorism risk. But the conditions the migrants enter, changes this. Of the three EU border countries, individuals’ preference to not have foreign-born neighbours is highest in Lithuania and consequently, Lithuania faces the highest increased risk of domestic terrorism if there is a mass influx of the migrants in Belarus.

Background: Migrant Crisis in Belarus

In summer 2021, migrants began arriving in Belarus in large numbers. Latvia and Lithuania quickly requested European assistance in maintaining security along their Belarussian border, which was provided in July by the European Boarder and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) deploying border guards. The influx of migrants continued into the fall. The majority come from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. Many EU member states accuse Belarus of encouraging migrants to come by increasing direct flights from Middle East hubs to Minsk and reducing visa entry requirements. Once in Belarus, many were provided government assistance in crossing the EU border, including the army allegedly cutting holes in Polish border fencing and ushering migrants through.

The situation quickly escalated with EU eastern border member-states raising fears of the security threat the migrant influx would pose. As the number of undocumented crossings and the size of the migrant camps along the Belarussian border grew, security measures were heightened. Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland each declared a state of emergency in their border regions.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s accused Belarus of state terrorism, painting Belarussian actions and the forced migrants themselves as threatening. His comments reflect historical and contemporary fears of weaponised migrants.

In line with Poland’s fear, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen described the situation to U.S. President Joe Biden as “…a hybrid attack. Not a migration crisis…”.  Similar fears led to accusations against the EU’s eastern neighbours during the Syrian refugee crisis. For example, in March 2016, NATO Commander Philip Breedlove accused Russia and Syria of weaponising migration to destabilise Europe.

Tensions reached a new high in November 2021. Poland deployed 12,000 troops to the Belarussian border to stabilise the area and deter forced migrants’ crossing into the EU. Lithuania and Latvia have also deployed troops to their Belarussian borders.

New Migrants, Same Perceived Fear

Many of the migrants trapped in Belarus are Syrian and Iraqi. This likely aides in the securitisation framing and threat perception political rhetoric because of the EU’s Syrian refugee crisis in the mid-2010s.

In 2015, more than one million refugees sought safety in Europe. They were quickly blamed for several terror attacks across Europe. Blame partnered well with narratives alleging ISIS was using the mass migration as a Trojan Horse to sneak terrorists into Europe. Securitisation discourse, increased border security, and violent deterrence to entry were common. When a Syrian passport that had been registered to a refugee was found in the aftermath of the 13 November 2015 attack in Paris, it validated the securitisation discourse for many people.

Germany became an epicentre in the crisis as it accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees, irregular migrants, and asylum applications. In 2015, 51,396 Syrian and Iraqi UNHCR mandated refugees entered Germany, followed by 30,000 Syrian and Iraqi applications for asylum. Other sources report hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylees entering Germany in 2015 (for example: Pew Research, The Munich Security Conference, and former German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere). And while only seventeen of the Syrians and Iraqis who arrived in Germany were investigated for terrorism, securitisation discourse assumed a central role in German politics and society.

But German fears of refugee-driven violence appeared substantiated by a 316 percent increase in terror attacks from 2014 to 2015 reported by the . This coincides with a 45.7 percent increase in the total number UNHCR mandated refugees, and 86 percent increase in asylum-seekers in Germany. As well as a 135 percent increase in asylum applications to Germany.

The Political and Societal Violence By And Against Refugees (POSVAR) dataset shows that in Germany from 2014 to 2015, there was also an increase in civilian violence against refugees and a 2,500 percent increase in terrorism against refugees. But none of the terror attacks were committed by refugees. POSVAR also reports an increase in refugee violence against the government, but no incidents of refugee violence against civilians.

Refugees & Terrorism

Research has generally concluded that refugees and forced migrants pose a minimal direct terror threat to host-countries. While refugee flows can spread civil war from home-countries to neighbouring host-countries, there is far less consensus on whether the risk of terror is higher or lower. Much of the research connecting refugee flows and terrorism focuses on international terrorism when fighters and resources cross borders or when refugees become the target of violence.

Research on the nexus of refugees and terrorism paints a nuanced picture. Some research has found that the frequency and lethality of terrorism is higher in countries with larger refugee populations. But how and why this can occur is widely debated and complex with a diversity of processes including radicalisation in refugee camps, looting humanitarian aid, competition over resources in the host country, or transferring ethnic or social tensions from home countries, and activating kin networks in host countries that expand the violence. Other research finds such processes only affect transnational terrorism or that only terror attack lethality increases, not the frequency.

Missing from much of this research is insight on how anti-refugee rhetoric, nationalist or xenophobic groups, and social perceptions combine to produce an increased risk of domestic terrorism. My research examines this possibility.

Host-country nationals’ attitudes about the demographic composition of their community is an important conditioning factor for understanding how refugee flows impact domestic terrorism. For many people, migration of any kind raises concerns about competition over resources, employment, social benefits, and the identity of their community. These concerns can manifest at a local level where demographics may be changing, or at a more national level where real or perceived demographic, economic, or societal changes pose a threat to an individual’s constructed national identity. When these perceived societal threats are coupled with increases in refugee inflows, it can lead to heightened perception of the risks of violence.

I find that host-country nationals’ attitudes about foreigner-born residents helps determine the risk of domestic terrorism when refugees enter the country. Host-country nationals’ xenophobia can better explain increases in domestic terrorism than refugee flows can. In a global sample of countries from 1995-2014, I find that in countries where the World Value Survey records a higher percentage of the population preferring to not have foreigners for neighbours, the likelihood of domestic terrorism increases in response to refugee inflows to that country.

Observed upticks in violence during and following refugee inflows to a country and the perceived threats and securitisation frames this can lead to are typically exaggerated and often applied to the wrong people. When refugees enter a country where residents prefer not to live next-door to foreigners, it may trigger incidences of domestic terrorism.

My cross-national findings are validated when specifically looking at Europe. In a 2017 report, the Danish Institute for International Studies shows that in 2016 and 2017, during the height of the Syrian migrant crisis, there were no terror attacks by refugees, one attack by an asylum-seeker in Sweden, and three attacks by denied asylum applicants in Germany. Yet, many politicians continued to frame migration as a security threat in response to jihadist terror attacks, even when the perpetrator was European, like in the2 November 2020 Vienna attack. Following this terror attack, Bulgarian media and right-wing party Alternative for Germany linked the attack to lax migration policies, and French President Emmanuel Macron, following consultation with other national leaders, called for stronger EU border control to improve counter-terrorism.

What the Data Show

When a host-country population’s attitude about not having foreigners for neighbours is accounted for, it has a profound impact on the likelihood of domestic terrorism. Running a series of statistical models using UNHCR data from 1995-2014 and accounting for host-country political, economic, and social characteristics (more details here), if a country receives a large refugee inflow (measured as 45,490 people per year, the 75th percentile) the predicted probability of domestic terrorism that year is 3.8 percent. Once the host-country population’s attitude about having foreigners for neighbours (as measured using World Values Survey) is included in the statistical models, the predicted probability of domestic terrorism increases to 5.8 percent if the population’s dislike of having foreign neighbours is low (5.4 percent, the 25th percentile) and increases to 11.0 percent if the percentage is high (39 percent, 75th percentile). When faced with this size refugee inflow, a host-country with high preference to not have foreign neighbours is at an 89.7 percent greater risk of domestic terrorism than a low preference host-country.

Securitisation framing of refugees and migrants, and associated political rhetoric, can have massive negative implications for countries. Such rhetoric could increase the percentage of a country’s population who are hesitant, fearful, or outraged about living near or having non-native residents in their community or neighbourhood. This then fuels an increased likelihood of domestic terrorism as some individuals turn to, and may think they are supported in, direct violent actions such as domestic terrorism.

If framing refugees and forced migration as a security problem increases the risk of domestic terrorism, what does this mean for the ongoing migrant crisis on the EU-Belarus border?

Assessing Domestic Terror Threat on EU-Belarus Border

To investigate the impact the migrants could have on domestic terrorism in EU border states, I use the statistical models from my previous research to measure the potential effect the migrant flow could have on domestic terrorism in each border country.

Evaluating how the migrant crisis could change the predicted probability of domestic terrorism in each border country from 2020 to 2021 requires two crucial assumptions. First, as discussed above, because migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers can conjure perceived threat and securitisation rhetoric, even though the three are definitionally different, I use UNHCR 2020 statistics on the number of refugees and asylum-seekers in each country to establish baseline 2020 estimates. Second, I assume a world in which all attempted border crossings and apprehended or detained migrants were successful, and the migrants entered the respective host-country.

I input the most recently available (year 2020) political, social, and economic measures per country. GTD provides terror event data through December 31, 2019, so I supplement this with European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend reports (TESAT) for 2020 and 2021. Doing so identifies right-wing domestic terror attacks in Lithuania in 2019 and in Poland in 2020.

I replace refugee data with estimates of the number of migrants who have successfully crossed, attempted to cross, or were blocked from crossing the Belarussian border into each country. The Polish Border Guard Service reports 33,000 attempted border crossing through the end of October 2021 and another 5,100 attempts in the first two weeks of November. Latvian Public Broadcasting reports 2,003 migrants were prevented from crossing the border and 407 migrants were detained through the end of October. Lithuanian authorities report 4,200 apprehensions of migrants crossing its border and another 7,000 were pushed back through the end of November.

Applying the second assumption, based on these reports, Latvia would have received 2,410 migrants in 2021, a 239 percent increase compared to the 710 refugees and asylees received in 2020. Lithuania would have received 11,200 migrants, a 459 percent increase compared to the 2,002 refugees and asylees in 2020. And, 38,100 migrants would have entered Poland, a 498 percent increase from the 6,373 refugees and asylees entering the country in 2020.

Then I use the most recently available European Values Survey responses for preference to not have foreigners for neighbours in Poland, Lithuania, (Survey 2017) and Latvia (Survey 2008). To turn the individual responses into country-level measurements, I calculate the percent of respondents per country indicating they prefer not to have foreigners for neighbours. There is considerable variation among these countries; 20.4 percent in Latvia, 31.4 percent in Lithuania, and 18.7 percent in Poland.

After conducting the updated analysis, I find that a hypothetical massive influx of migrants to these countries does not directly increase the risk of domestic terrorism. An influx of migrants appears to reduce the risk. In Latvia, the predicted probability of domestic terrorism decreases by 3.1 percent, in Lithuania by 3.2 percent, and in Poland by 2.3 percent.

When the measurements of host-country attitudes are included in the statistical models, it completely changes how the same hypothetical influx of migrants can impact domestic terrorism in the host-countries. In Latvia, the predicted probability of domestic terrorism increases by 2 percent, in Lithuania by 22.8 percent, and in Poland by 1.1 percent. The predictions show that the host-country social environments migrants enter greatly shapes the migrants’ impact on the risk.

The impact of host-country attitudes on potential security threats stemming from this migrant crisis is not trivial. Considering the growth in right-wing extremism and violence in Europe, particularly in eastern countries along the EU-Belarus border, the widespread and entrenched securitisation discourse about this migrant crisis risks setting off a cascade of violence. Political and media rhetoric framing migrants as a threat could increase individuals’ preferences to not want to live near foreign-born people. European Values Survey data hint at this possibility as the European-wide preference to not have foreign neighbours increased from 18.5 percent in 2008, before the Syrian refugee crisis, to 23.2 in 2017.

The geopolitical battle over migration and alleged weaponisation of migrants could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Securitisation discourse and political rhetoric could fuel individuals’ perceived threat of migrants and dislike of foreign-born neighbours, thereby increasing the risk of domestic terrorism. And if there are attacks, political entrepreneurs can frame them as consequences of migration, thereby encouraging greater perceived threat and rationale for securitisation discourse.

This is particularly worrying in the world of social media disinformation where the EU-Belarus migrant crisis has already been wildly and widely manipulated. Recently, analysts identified coordinated social media campaigns by the Belarussian KGB to heighten perceived threat and fear of the migrants. And Polish social media accounts were spreading disinformation about the struggles of migrants in Poland and the EU and threat of neo-Nazis in Poland.

If European policy makers and political leaders seriously reflect on the impact migrant securitisation discourse and perceived threat have on domestic terrorism, they ought to realize they are risking their constituents’ safety and security by hyping the threat refugees and migrants pose to national security.

[i] Refugees are defined in Article 1 of the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 as individuals with credible fears of “being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” Migrants are people who can choose or be forced to move to or flee, respectively, to new countries because of economic, food, health, or climate insecurities. Many relief agencies, analysts, and activists argue to broaden the international law definition of refugee to include these and other threats beyond traditional interpretations of persecution.


Graig R. Klein is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University. His research explores the instrumentality of political violence, primarily terrorism and protests, and how dissident-government interactions inform tactical and strategic evolution in conflict processes, international security, and national security. Graig has published his research in leading international peer-review journals including International Organization, Terrorism and Political Violence, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Defence and Peace Economics, and Conflict Management and Peace Science. He also actively applies his research to public policy, political analyses, and general interest having written pieces for The Monkey Cage, Political Violence @ A Glance, Diplomatic Courier, and London School of Economics – US Centre (USAPP). In addition to his faculty position, he has served as an Academic Primary Investigator at the World Bank. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University and a M.A. in International Peace & Conflict Resolution from American University, as well as studied at American University in Cairo and conducted fieldwork in Iraq. You can follow him on Twitter @graigklein

Related Readings:

Mehra, T. and Wentworth, M. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Regional Responses and Security Threats. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 27 August 2021

Leidig, E. and van Mieghem, C. The US National Strategy on Countering Domestic Terrorism as a model for the EU. Policy Brief, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 24 September 2021.

Gartenstein-Ross, D., Clarke, C. P. and Hodgson, S.Bordering on Hate: The Strategic Implications of White Supremacist Extremist Travel between the United States and Canada. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 13 April 2021.

Schmid, A.P. Links between Terrorism and Migration: An Exploration.The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague 7, no. 4 (2016).

Russia

Overview:  The Russian Federation continued to prioritize CT efforts in 2019 and remained a target of international terrorist groups, particularly ISIS.  Low-level militant terrorist activity remained a problem in Russia’s North Caucasus region despite increases in CT activities and political consolidation efforts.

2019 Terrorist Incidents:  On January 11, three apparent terrorists attacked officers of Russia’s road patrol service near the village of Agachaul, Karabudakhentsky District in the Republic of Dagestan.  The suspects opened fired on law enforcement officers with automatic rifles before being killed by the authorities.  The authorities reportedly found additional weapons and ammunition in the suspects’ car.  Additional attacks included:

  • On March 13, two suspects in the Shpakov district in Stavropol opened fire with automatic weapons and threw a grenade when stopped by the Federal Security Service (FSB) for questioning.  The suspects were killed onsite.  Russian authorities reported the perpetrators were affiliated with ISIS and had been planning a terrorist attack.
  • On April 8, there was an explosion at Kolomna, near Moscow.  ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack, which reportedly did not result in any casualties.
  • On July 1, a man killed a police officer with a knife at a checkpoint in the Achkhoy-Martonovsky district of Chechnya.  The police shot and killed the attacker as he threw a grenade at them.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • On December 19, a Moscow region resident opened fire near the FSB headquarters in Moscow and killed two security officers and wounded four others.  The shooter was killed onsite.  The attacker was later identified as Yevgeny Manyurov, a 39-year-old former security guard.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Under the coordination of the National Antiterrorism Committee and with aid from the Ministry of Internal Affairs when appropriate, the FSB performs CT functions.  Russia increasingly used its counterterrorism and anti-extremism legislation against the political opposition, independent media, and certain religious organizations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to criminalize the exercise of freedoms of religion or belief, expression, and association.

Russia’s FSB Director General Alexander Bortnikov reported in late September that the FSB had identified terrorist cells in 17 regions of the country.  He stated that Russian law enforcement had prevented 39 terrorist attacks, killed 32 militants, detained 679 suspects, and dismantled 49 terrorists’ cells that were plotting attacks.  Notwithstanding those incidents, Bortnikov stated on December 10 that the intelligence services did not allow any terrorist acts in 2019 despite the incidents listed.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that those detained in connection to terrorism in 2019 included 14 returning international terrorists.

On November 5, Russian media reported the arrest of a 30-year-old native of Kyrgyz Republic for planning a terrorist attack in Moscow.  Media reported the suspect, who confessed to planning an explosion in a crowded area of the nation’s capital, was affiliated with a “radical form of Islam.”

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Russia is a member of FATF and two FATF-style regional bodies:  MONEYVAL and EAG.  Its FIU, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring), is a member of the Egmont Group.

In September, Rosfinmonitoring released for public discussion a draft law to amend Article 6.2 of the federal law “On the Prevention of Criminal Proceeds Legalization and Terrorist Financing.”  The amendment would establish that legal entities are required to take reasonable measures in specific circumstances to prevent the laundering of criminal proceeds and to cooperate with law enforcement agencies on issues related to combating terrorist financing and money laundering.

In December, FATF published a Mutual Evaluation Report that reviewed Russia’s compliance with FATF standards and the effectiveness of Russia’s AML/CFT system.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The government has not committed great attention to countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment in 2019.  However, according to NGO reports, Russian government authorities, including the Ministry of Internal Affair’s Center for Countering Extremism and the FSB, continue to misuse the country’s expansive definition of extremism to curtail freedoms of expression, belief, assembly, and association.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Russia participated in several joint CT exercises, including the Tsentr 2019 exercise from September 16 to 21, with China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Russia also promoted the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a forum for international CT cooperation and conducted the Combat Brotherhood-2019 exercise from October 21 to 29.  Russia is a member of the GCTF and an active participant in several multilateral organizations, including the UN, OSCE, the East Asia Summit, APEC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.  On September 5 and 6, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the International Conference on Countering Illicit Trafficking in Arms in the Context of Fighting International Terrorism.  Russia also hosted the 18th Meeting of Heads of Special Services, Security Agencies, and Law-Enforcement Organizations in Sochi on October 16 and 17.

News

Leaders and politicians around the world have expressed their condolences as news spread that the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms helped end the Cold War and free Eastern Europe from communism, but also led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, died overnight at the age of 91.

Some in Russia and elsewhere took to social media to criticize the man they blamed for making Russia a second-rate power, a feeling that eventually led to the rise of President Vladimir Putin, who has tried for the past quarter-century to restore Russia to its former glory and beyond.

Gorbachev died late on August 30 "after a serious and prolonged illness," the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said.

The news triggered an immediate outpouring of praise from global leaders far and wide for the man who helped trigger a a pivotal turning point in world history.

Gorbachev was "a one-of-a-kind statesman who changed the course of history. He did more than any other individual to bring about the peaceful end of the Cold War," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. "The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace."

A trained lawyer by profession, Gorbachev took over the Communist Party and Soviet leadership in 1985 and presided over six turbulent years that saw the fall of the Iron Curtain, the reunification of Germany, and ultimately the Soviet demise that Putin has since called "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.

Gorbachev famously ushered in "glasnost" and "perestroika" in an effort to keep the struggling Soviet Union alive.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on August 31 hailed Gorbachev's role in reuniting Germany but lamented that his attempt to establish an enduring democracy in Russia had "failed," a thinly veiled criticism of Putin, who has been roundly criticized by the international community for cracking down on civil society in recent years.

"The democracy movements in Central and Eastern Europe benefited from the fact he was in power then in Russia," Scholz said. However, Gorbachev "died at a time in which democracy has failed in Russia."

Added Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson: "In a time of Putin's aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all."

In a statement issued in the early hours of August 31, U.S. President Joe Biden called Gorbachev a "rare leader -- one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it. The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people."

French President Emmanuel Macron praised Gorbachev as a "man of peace" whose decision opened a "path of freedom" for Russians. "His commitment to peace in Europe changed our common history," Macron said on Twitter.

Mikhail Gorbachev: A Life In Pictures

The legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev, the man who oversaw the breakup of the Soviet Union, remains a divisive topic in Russia. But whether lauded by advocates of his "openness" or loathed by people who see the U.S.S.R.'s collapse as a disaster, his influence on modern history was enormous.

China praised Gorbachev for his part in improving ties between Beijing and Moscow in the 1980s and '90s after decades of tensions over ideological differences and competing geopolitical interests.

"Mikhail Gorbachev made positive contributions to the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference, adding: "We mourn his death and express our condolences to his family."

At home, however, Gorbachev's legacy was being spoken of in a different tone.

The developments in Eastern Europe triggered by Gorbachev helped fuel aspirations for democracy and autonomy among the 15 republics of the Soviet Union, which fell apart, sometimes violently.

In January 1991, Soviet troops killed 14 people at Lithuania's main TV tower in an attack that Gorbachev denied ordering. In Latvia, five demonstrators were killed by Soviet special forces.

“Lithuanians will not glorify Gorbachev," tweeted Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the son of Vytautas Landsbergis, who led Lithuania’s independence movement in the early 1990s.

"We will never forget the simple fact that his army murdered civilians to prolong his regime’s occupation of our country. His soldiers fired on our unarmed protesters and crushed them under his tanks. That is how we will remember him,” he added.

WATCH: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who has died aged 91, presided over the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War.

Gorbachev was politically debilitated by a hard-line coup in August 1991 that failed in large part due to a popular resistance led by Boris Yeltsin.

A week later, Gorbachev resigned as Communist Party general secretary.

In late December 1991, his resignation as president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics effectively spelled the end of the Soviet empire.

Putin paid tribute to Gorbachev for his reform efforts and humanitarian work.

"Mikhail Gorbachev was a politician and statesman who had a tremendous influence on the course of world history," reads the condolence message to relatives released by the Kremlin on August 30.

Gorbachev led the country to a time of "dramatic change" and recognized the great need for reform at the time, Putin’s message said.

"I would like to particularly emphasize the great humanitarian, charitable and educational activity that Mikhail Sergeevitch Gorbachev carried out all these past years," it added.

Aleksei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition politician, praised Gorbachev for "peacefully" departing from power.

Navalny, who is being held in a facility about 260 kilometers east of Moscow, made the statement on Twitter on August 31, most likely via his team members.

Oleg Morozov, a member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, or Duma, representing the ruling United Russia party, called Gorbachev one of the “co-authors” of a new world order that he labeled as “unjust” for Russia.

Morozov described Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine as an attempt to alter the post-Soviet world order. He said he hoped that in his last days Gorbachev felt “remorse” for the consequences of his actions.

The Kremlin called Gorbachev "an extraordinary politician" but said that his "romanticism" over forging strong ties with the West "failed to be true."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking at an educational event in Moscow on August 31, said Gorbachev will be forever remembered both at home and abroad for his statesmanship.

"Many argue about the role he played [in history], but it is clear that he was extraordinary, a unique person," Peskov said, adding that the death of the Soviet leader is "a real loss for us all."

"Gorbachev gave the impulse for the end of the Cold War, and he sincerely wanted to believe that it will end and a permanent romantic period of ties between a new Soviet Union and the collective West would follow. That romanticism failed to be true. No romantic period or honeymoon came," Peskov added, blaming the West for failing to further the relationship.

Peskov said Putin had sent a telegram of "condolences to Mikhail Gorbachev's relatives and loved ones," the text of which appeared on the Kremlin's website.

"Mikhail Gorbachev was a politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of world history. He led our country during a period of complex, dramatic changes, large-scale political, economic, and social challenges. He deeply understood that reforms were necessary and strove to offer his own solutions to emerging problems," Putin's telegram says, adding Gorbachev was involved with "great humanitarian, charitable, and educational activities" after the Soviet Union was officially dissolved in December 1991.

The former Soviet leader is expected to be buried at Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery alongside his wife, Raisa, who died in 1999, according to state media. However, Interfax reported that there wouldn't be a state funeral for Gorbachev.

With reporting by Izvestiya, TASS, Interfax, Reuters, Forbes, and The New York Times

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Russia's Counterproductive Counterterrorism

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Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2255

Washington, DC

United States

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Representative Richard Hudson

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Commissioner

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Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Senator Cory Gardner

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Commissioner

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Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Representative Robert Aderholt

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Commissioner

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Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

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Representative Brian Fitzpatrick

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Commissioner

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Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Russia’s counterterrorism approach, which is problematic in both conception and execution, makes Moscow an ill-suited partner with the United States in this field, experts told the U.S. Helsinki Commission at a hearing on June 12, 2019.  The hearing closely examined the development, history, and repercussions of the Kremlin’s approach to counterterrorism under Vladimir Putin, including Moscow’s attempts to present itself as a regional and global leader on this issue. 

Witnesses included Dr. Michael Carpenter, Senior Director of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Rachel Denber, Deputy Director, Europe and Center Asia Division, Human Rights Watch; and Dr. Mariya Y. Omelicheva, Professor of Strategy at the United States National War College of the National Defense University. 

In his opening statement, Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08), who chaired the hearing, noted concerns expressed by many, including the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, about Russia’s attempts to assume the mantle of leadership in the counterterrorism sphere, through efforts that include placing Russian nationals in senior counterterrorism positions in international organizations.  Rep. Hudson further expressed concern regarding overly broad use of “terrorism” and “extremism” labels by the Kremlin and authoritarian regimes across Central Asia, in contravention of their commitments to human rights

Rep. Hudson was joined by other Helsinki Commissioners. Sen. Cory Gardner (CO) underscored the inherently destabilizing nature of Russia’s counterterrorism policies and practices and recalled legislation he has introduced that would require the Department of State to formally determine whether Russia should be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.  Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) raised questions regarding Russia’s role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over eastern Ukraine and whether such an action amounts to state-sponsored terrorism, as well as the impact of Russia’s counterterrorism policies on its Muslim population.  Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) drew upon his experience in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to highlight the challenges of sharing investigative techniques and best practices for fighting terrorism with Russia, as opposed to other countries in the region. 

Dr. Omelicheva discussed how the Kremlin has increasingly prioritized fighting terrorism, both as a policy and as a political theme. She described how punitive measures, rather than a focus on socioeconomic improvement to address root causes of radicalization, have long been a preferred method of Russia’s military and security services for addressing terrorism.  She also noted that some Central Asian states have copied the Kremlin’s heavy-handed methods.   

Ms. Denber noted the broad criminal code Russian authorities inappropriately apply—under the guise of fighting terrorism—to persecute people “inconvenient” to the Kremlin.  She discussed in detail other domestic applications of Russia’s counterterrorism criminal laws, including monitoring and storing of Russian citizens’ internet metadata, as well as labeling groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremist organizations.  Russia’s counterterrorism policies may well have alienated segments of Russia’s Muslim population and led individuals to join extremist organizations such as the Islamic State and Hizb ut-Tahrir, Ms. Denber stated.      

Dr. Carpenter asserted that active U.S.-Russia counterterrorism cooperation runs counter to U.S. interests and values—highlighting Russia’s penchant for claiming to be fighting extremism while actually punishing dissidents, notably individuals in Crimea critical of the ongoing occupation of the peninsula.  “A single mother was recently imprisoned on extremism charges because she had posted comments critical of Russia’s annexation of Crimea on her social media feed,” he said.   

Dr. Carpenter’s experience in government led him to conclude, “Russia approaches counterterrorism from the position of counterintelligence;” when Russia cooperates, it is with the aim of eliciting information rather than pursuing common solutions. Using Syria as an example, he emphasized how Russian leadership does not think in win-win terms when it comes to counterterrorism, even when the U.S. does. 

“Moscow will be happy, of course, to host dozens of international conferences, and will periodically suggest that a solution is within reach.  But at the end of the day, its interests are best served when Iran, Hezbollah and Assad are in power to make mischief in the region, because that’s when Russia’s influence with the Europeans, with Israel, and the Gulf States is at its peak,” he said. 

Dr. Omelicheva added to these comments with an overview of lessons the Russian government has learned in past failed counterterrorism operations, including the Dubrovka Theater hostage crisis of 2002 and Beslan school siege of 2004.    

“The key lesson that the government learned was that they have to have sufficient force to secure the perimeter of the counterterrorism operation, that they need to be able to constrain the freedom of movement, the freedom of mass media, and other types of freedom.” 

  • NATO Refocused, Europe Reinforced

    Wednesday, August 10, 2022

    By Jessika Nebrat, Max Kampelman Fellow​ Following the escalation of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is playing a role it has not filled in years. Forced to reconcentrate its attention to Europe’s defense, NATO allies are demonstrating persistent resolve in countering Moscow’s expansionist tendencies. In doing so, NATO returns to a core facet of its founding mission: the defense against Moscow’s militarism. While NATO represents just one facet of the Euro-Atlantic security infrastructure, it is perhaps the most robust organization bound by formal agreements, dedicated to peacekeeping, and capable of enforcement. Its mission to “guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means” echoes the first dimension principles outlined by the Helsinki Final Act, and aligns NATO with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. Helsinki Commission. In supporting each other’s work, these institutions mutually reinforce their shared values and bolster European security. History of NATO In the aftermath of the second World War, the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations sought to boost European economic reconstruction and protect themselves from Soviet domination. The 1947 Treaty of Dunkirk predated NATO in promoting Atlantic alliance and mutual assistance between France and the United Kingdom. The agreement was expanded in March 1948 as the Treaty of Brussels to engage Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in military, economic, social, and cultural cooperation. In the same month, the United States hosted talks intended to unite both North American and Western European allies; as a result, NATO was officially signed into existence on April 4, 1949. The 12 founding member nations derived their legitimacy from United Nations (UN) Charter Article 51, which affirmed the right to collective defense. The foundational NATO Treaty mentioned collective defense only after declaring the parties’ commitments to finding peaceful resolutions of disputes, upholding UN principles, strengthening free institutions, and promoting economic collaboration. The Alliance formally defined its principal objectives to deter Soviet expansionism, oppose nationalist militarism on the continent, and bolster European political integration. Though it sought to deter military aggression, NATO’s original treaty did not provide any means of enforcing the agreed-upon principles. It was not until after the USSR’s 1949 detonation of an atomic bomb and the 1950 start of the Korean War that NATO approved a military command structure. In response, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Though neither of the two ideologically opposed organizations used force during the Cold War, they engaged in an arms race that persisted until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. NATO after the Cold War Once NATO no longer had to defend against Soviet expansionism, the Alliance broadened the scope of its peacekeeping and security enforcement missions. In the 1990s, NATO forces were deployed: to Turkey during the Gulf Crisis; upon request to Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States nations as part of a humanitarian mission after the fall of the USSR; to enforce a UN arms embargo and no-fly zone over former Yugoslavia; and in the Central Mediterranean during a period of tension with Libya. In the 21st century, NATO forces were also deployed during: the Second Gulf War; to the US and Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the only Article 5 invocation in NATO history; to mitigate rising ethnic tensions in North Macedonia; to counter terrorist activity in the Mediterranean; as counter-piracy escorts to UN World Food Programme ships transiting the Gulf of Aden; to train Iraqi security forces; to enforce a no-fly zone after the popular uprising in Libya; for peacekeeping in Sudan; and to provide disaster relief throughout Europe, the Middle East, and in the United States. NATO currently maintains active operations in Kosovo, the Mediterranean, Iraq, and throughout the African Union; it recently ramped up air policing as part of a peace-keeping response to the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the escalation against Ukraine this past February. Kremlin Narrative against NATO Over the years, Moscow has repeatedly resisted NATO enlargement – especially for countries it claims within its sphere of influence. Putin asserts that during a 1990 summit between President George H. W. Bush and President Gorbachev, the United States promised no further expansion of NATO; civil servants present at that meeting have refuted this claim, as has Mr. Gorbachev himself. In his conversation with Bush, Gorbachev repeatedly affirmed that nations have the right to make their own alliances. Though internal U.S. analyses of the 1990s suggested that expansion eastward may not be politically expedient, such positions never became official policy. The United States has remained resolute in its recognition of sovereign choice, and expansion has been driven by requests from former Soviet and Warsaw Pact states wary of Russian revanchism. The Kremlin has deployed an opposing narrative to justify Russian military engagements in Georgia in the early 2000s, and more recently in Ukraine. Putin sees the inclusion of either nation in NATO, and the political and economic liberalization that go with it, as threats to his regime’s stability. NATO membership would limit Russian interference in the internal affairs of either state. Additionally, if Russia’s neighbors and fellow post-Soviet states can become true democracies, provide higher quality of living, and ensure the rule of law, then why can’t Putin’s Russia? Any argument that NATO expansion threatens Russia misrepresents the organization, which is a diverse coalition dedicated to mutual defense and development. Moreover, such an assertion overlooks the efforts NATO has made to include and collaborate with Russia in the pursuit of cooperative security. NATO Back to its Roots By illegally and brutally invading Ukraine in February 2022 – a dramatic escalation of the grinding conflict started in 2014 – Putin has galvanized European and Western unity. Hearkening to its origins and returning attention to Eastern Europe, NATO is recommitting itself to “counter Russia’s attempts to destroy the foundations of international security and stability.” The international community is largely on board. In its collective attention beyond security, NATO – alongside other organizations – highlights not only the potential for, but the responsibility of the international community to condemn human rights violations, uphold the rule of law, and pursue economic health, all efforts that further challenge the Kremlin’s narrative that it can lead (or that there even needs to exist) an opposing bloc. Alarmed by Moscow’s renewed expansionism, Sweden and Finland have abandoned decades of neutrality in favor of NATO membership. They are on track towards the fastest accession process in history, and anticipate a smooth integration. Both already engage in the wider European community through membership in such organizations as the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Their force structures are robust, and well-versed in NATO procedures following decades of partnership; their accession will secure northeast Europe, expand NATO’s border with Russia, and reinforce NATO presence in the Arctic and Baltic Sea. Although the Kremlin initially vowed “military and political repercussions” were Finland and Sweden to join NATO, such threats have dulled to warnings about the installation of NATO military infrastructure nearer Russia’s borders; as Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership neared finalization, Putin even expressed “no problem” with these states joining the Alliance. It remains to be seen how this change will play out. After decades of orientation towards international stabilization, humanitarian, and counterinsurgency mission sets, NATO has been refocused on European deterrence and defense following the Kremlin’s violent assault on Ukraine. In addition to condemning Russia’s invasion and supporting Ukraine via such measures as the Comprehensive Assistance Package, NATO plays a critical role in championing European collective defense and discouraging any expansion of conflict.    

In Belarus, Who’s the Terrorist? Another Step in the Crackdown on Journalists

In November, Roman Protasevich – a 26-year-old Belarusian blogger and journalist, wrote on his Twitter feed that he had been “declared terrorist” in Belarus. He went on to say, “A couple of hours later, the Belarusian ‘parliament’ adopts a law on deprivation of citizenship for extremism and/or terrorism. An incredible coincidence!” Six months later, on May 23, Belarusian authorities intercepted a commercial Ryanair flight, traveling from Greece to Lithuania, while it was in Belarus air space with 126 passengers on board, instructing it to land and alleging a “security threat” was on board. The Belarusian government sent a MiG-29 fighter jet to escort the plane back to Minsk.

But, there was no bomb on board. Instead, the only so-called “security threat” was Protasevich, who was arrested with his girlfriend when the plane landed. Protasevich remains in detention, where it is alleged that he has been subjected to torture and inhuman treatment. In addition to being charged with terrorism, he is also accused of inciting mass riots. His most recent televised appearance in custody involved a tearful statement from him affirming involvement in illegal, anti-government rallies. His family said the statement was adduced under duress or coercion.

What is the real “crime” that led to such a phenomenal and unprecedented heavy-handed response by the Belarusian authorities? The peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms: expression, opinion, assembly and media, in prominent opposition to the autocratic regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who’s served as president of Belarus since 1994. Protasevich was the co-founder and editor of several Telegram-based blogs with large numbers of followers – Nexta and Nexta Live – which played a key part in the popular uprising following Lukashenko’s disputed election last year. Protasevich had fled Belarus to seek refuge, first in Poland, and then, in Lithuania.

The forced landing of the plane and subsequent arrest of Protasevich are, however, nothing more than steps – albeit unprecedented and shocking – in an increasingly reported and analyzed trend: the incremental use by States, across the globe, of legislation to counter the threat of terrorism, in various ways, against journalistic activity. These challenges include the prosecution, or threat of prosecution, of journalists under imprecise and vaguely worded definitions of acts of terrorism, extremism or violent extremism, or justified by the preservation of national security or public order against journalists who criticize government policy, investigate government action, or seek to bring new information to the public, who can, in many cases, fall foul of the definition of terrorism.

It also includes the prosecution, or threat of prosecution, of journalists under various offenses that tightly circumscribe freedom of expression and opinion, including overly broad incitement offenses, apologies, encouragement, propaganda, or glorification of terrorism, as well as membership. There is also the adoption of legislation that more plainly limits any receiving, investigating, reporting, and/or publishing on “terrorist” incidents. Governments also use smear campaigns, including by heads of State, loosely characterizing journalists as “terrorists,” as well as judicial harassment (arrests, detentions, and convictions), physical harassment (torture, arbitrary detention, and incommunicado and secret detention, surveillance, assault, kidnapping and assassinations); and a range of measures to exclude journalists from international fora, or preventing their travel.

All of these methods are demonstrably used to quash journalistic activity, increasingly perceived as a threat to the State, either directly through the silencing of the targeted individual or through the indirect silencing of others through a ripple chilling effect.

Belarus has a very problematicdefinition of extremist activity, which includes “disseminating extremist materials” as well as “degrading of national honour and dignity.” According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, measures that invoke national security laws to suppress or withhold from the public information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security or to prosecute journalists, (…) or others, for having disseminated such information, are incompatible with article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which enshrines freedom of expression. According to the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, extremist crimes are, per se, incompatible with the exercise of certain freedoms.

In the instance of Protasevich, taking the extra mile in suppression made the signal loud and clear: Industrial scale means can and will be used against any civil society member branded as a “terrorist,” at home or abroad. Verbal and written criticism has a price, and it applies even to those who have fled. No one is safe. Journalists are particularly at risk, with the execution of Jamal Khashoggi acting as a harbinger, although he wasn’t accused of “terrorism” by the Saudi government.

As this case makes amply clear, the consistent pattern of countering terrorism against those who advocate for the rights of others, for the right to free and uncensured information: the use of counter-terrorism measures in this way is not accidental, or an unfortunate by-product of security practice. In some cases, it is precisely the intended use. The wholesale attack on fundamental freedoms and those who exercise them is the result of two separate but overlapping phenomena.

When countering terrorism becomes an international priority, boasted by an ever-growing counter-terrorism/security infrastructure at the international level, but with States getting to define terrorism on their own terms domestically, terrorism is easily manipulated as a catchall phrase that includes acts that are protected by international law. But, also, when civil society is kept at the periphery of meaningful engagement and consultation across the globe, on the margins of counterterrorism policy and practice, but also on a number of other security issues, exceptionalism becomes the new normal, and there is no short-term solution to such a profound structural problem.

In this case, the slight twist that some have suggested — including the first U.N. Special rapporteur on human rights while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin — is that the Belarusian hijacking of a civilian plane is, in itself, an act of terrorism, noting that the severity of the act would justify using the label of terrorism under the 1963 Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft. In a similar vein, Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) has filed a complaint in Lithuania against Lukashenko for “hijacking an aircraft with criminal intent” as defined in articles 251 and 252-1 of Lithuania’s criminal code. This could, in principle, engage responsibility under U.N. Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).

Some measures to punish Belarus’ actions have been taken. Statements condemning the forced landing of the plane and the detention of Protasevitch, combined with economic sanctions by the United States (and envisaged by the European Union) as well as airspace overflight bans – both for Belarusian planes over EU airspace and for EU carriers over Belarusian airspace. The overreach of terrorism accusations has, however, not been raised by governments.

Yet the consequences of these abusive accusations of terrorism and of the lack of condemnation of this phenomenon are far reaching. They directly impact Protasevitch, who has been silenced through unlawful detention, possible ill-treatment, and fear of prosecution for very serious crimes. They also affect all those countless journalists and members of the opposition in Belarus, who might have been tempted to express views that the authorities do not agree with, and who will now remain quiet. Beyond Belarusian borders, the consequences will be felt by all civil society activists around the world, who now know where unfounded accusations of terrorism can lead them. The chilling effect seems so far to have succeeded brilliantly.

Image: Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them hold up a placard reading ‘Free Roman Protasevich’ during a demonstration in front of the European Commission office in Warsaw on May 24, 2021, demanding freedom for Belarus opposition activist Roman Protasevich a day after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying the dissident journalist was diverted while in Belarusian airspace. Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Belarus accused of state terrorism over migrant crisis

Image source, Reuters/social media

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused Belarus of committing "terrorism" over its role in an escalating border row between the two countries.

"It's clear that what we are confronted with here is a demonstration of state terrorism," he told a news conference.

Thousands of migrants are stuck at the border in freezing weather, attempting to enter EU member Poland.

The EU has also accused Belarus's leader of provoking the crisis.

But Alexander Lukashenko, who won a largely discredited election last year, denies claims Belarus is sending people over the border in revenge for EU sanctions.

The migrants - mostly from the Middle East - are mainly young men but there are also women and children. They are camping in tents just inside Belarus, trapped between Polish guards on one side, and Belarusian guards on the other.

The situation has come to a head this week with repeated attempts to tear down the razor-wire fence erected on Poland's eastern frontier.

Mr Morawiecki's latest comments came at a news conference in Warsaw with European Council President Charles Michel. He said he believed the crisis was a result of Mr Lukashenko's "quiet revenge" for Poland's support of the Belarusian opposition.

Mr Michel said he had come to Warsaw to show the EU's solidarity with Poland. He said the use of men, women and children as tools to achieve political goals was "shameful and unacceptable".

Image source, Getty Images

"Sanctions are on the table. We must now co-ordinate with member states to identify most efficient tools", he told the conference. "This hybrid attack against Poland and the EU must stop."

He said the EU must decide whether to fund fences by member states in the face of such crises, adding it was legally possible. President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that sanctions would be widened against Belarus next week.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Mr Putin on Wednesday, asking him to press Belarus to stop the "instrumentalisation of migrants", her spokesman said.

But Russia said on Wednesday it was "irresponsible" for Poland to blame Russia for the crisis. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the EU should provide financial support to Belarus to deal with migrants.

Ukraine, which shares a border with Belarus, is doubling the number of border guards on its frontier to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally.

The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis on Thursday.

View from Poland's border area

Dozens of Polish police vehicles race to the village of Kuznica where up to 4,000 migrants are effectively trapped on the other side of the border.

The area remains out of bounds for media and, crucially, aid agencies - much to their despair.

One man we contacted, an Iraqi Kurd, told us they'd endured another night in freezing conditions and asked us in exasperation what sort of life this was.

When I then asked what they were all doing for food, he said the Belarusians were providing supplies. But other migrants have also told us the Belarus security forces are also giving out wire-cutters to help break through the fence in places where Poland's numerous guards are thin on the ground.

The European Commission says Belarus enticed migrants with the false promise of easy entry to the EU as part of an "inhuman, gangster-style approach" and it has listed some 20 countries from which migrants have flown into Minsk, mainly on tourist visas.

Poland has been accused of pushing migrants back across the border into Belarus, contrary to international rules of asylum.

"Nobody is letting us get in anywhere, Belarus or Poland," said 33-year-old Shwan Kurd, who described arriving in Belarus at the start of November.

"There's no way to escape," he said. "Poland won't let us in. We are so hungry. There's no water or food here. There are little children, old men and women, and families."

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Reframing Threats from Migrants in Terrorism problem in belarus R. Klein13 Dec 2021

 

Keywords:Domestic Terrorism, Refugees, Forced Migrants, Nationalism, Political Violence, Social Perception, Securitisation Discourse

Since 2011 the global refugee population has terrorism problem in belarus increased each year. Traditionally, refugees were associated with suffering, despair, and humanitarian support, but recently there is a significant growth in the securitisation of refugees and related policy and political discourse. As a result, fears and win7 socket error perception of refugees bringing crime and violence can overpower desires to provide safety and assistance. Examples of this were rampant as Syrians refugees fled civil war and ISIS to be met with skepticism and hostility across much of Europe in the mid-2010s. Similar rhetoric and fears have been applied in the U.S., Germany, the EU more broadly to Afghan refugees who were frantically fleeing the Taliban. Haitian refugees flocking to the U.S.-Mexico border also triggered securitisation discourse and perceived threat.

In this context, the securitisation discourse frames the refugee as the source or threat of violence. This is particularly true of the relationship between refugees and terrorism. But this overlooks the conditions refugees enter in host-countries. In other words, while securitisation discourse associates refugees with an increased threat of terrorism in host-countries, could the increased threat instead come from within host-countries? My new research says yes.

Others’ research shows that pre-existing ethnic or demographic tensions in host-countries, or when refugees’ integration is inhibited by legal and social institutions, the risk of terrorism increases. My research shifts our attention away from these formal or institutional processes to explore how individuals’ attitudes about having foreign-born neighbours shapes the risk of terrorism when refugees enter a host-country. I specifically analyse domestic terrorism because host-country nationals, and not refugees, terrorism problem in belarus commit this type of reactionary violence in response to changes in refugee flow and perceived threats.

My findings are based on statistical analyses of refugee flows, domestic terrorism, and neighbourhood demographic preferences in a global sample of countries from 1995-2014. As expected, during refugee inflows, individuals’ acceptance of foreign-born neighbours plays a significant role in changing a host-country’s risk of domestic terrorism. The larger the percentage of a host-country population that prefers to not have foreign-born neighbours, the greater the likelihood of domestic terrorism when refugees enter the country. If this conditioning effect is omitted from the analysis, I find that refugee inflows tend to not impact the risk of domestic terrorism.

In this Perspective, I apply the lessons learned from my research on refugees and terrorism to the current migrant crisis in Belarus. Although refugees and migrants are definitionally different, similar securitisation frames and discourse, and threat perception political rhetoric have been applied to the thousands of migrants trapped on the border between Belarus and the European Union (EU)[i]

To analyse the impact this migrant flow could have on domestic terrorism risk in Belarus’ EU neighbours, I replicate my original statistical analyses using newly released data from European Values Survey to measure host-country attitudes about foreign-born neighbours. I substitute refugee data with government reports of the number of migrants who have already crossed, attempted to cross, and have been pushed back from Belarus’ borders with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. I find that the migrant influx, so feared in much of the political discourse, poses little direct threat to national security. At least in terms of domestic terrorism risk. But the conditions the migrants enter, changes this. Of the three EU border countries, individuals’ preference to not have foreign-born neighbours is highest in Lithuania and consequently, Lithuania faces the highest increased risk of domestic terrorism if there is a mass influx of the migrants in Belarus.

Background: Migrant Crisis in Belarus

In summer 2021, migrants began arriving in Belarus in large numbers. Latvia and Lithuania quickly requested European assistance in maintaining security along their Belarussian border, which was provided in July by the European Boarder and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) deploying border guards. The influx of migrants continued into the fall. The majority come from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, terrorism problem in belarus. Many EU member states accuse Belarus of encouraging migrants to come by increasing direct flights from Middle East hubs to Minsk and reducing visa entry requirements. Once in Belarus, many were provided government assistance in crossing the EU border, including the army allegedly cutting holes in Polish border fencing and ushering migrants through.

The situation quickly escalated with EU eastern border member-states raising fears of the security threat the migrant influx would pose. As the number of undocumented crossings and the size of the migrant camps along the Belarussian border grew, security measures were heightened. Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland each declared a state of emergency in their border regions.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s accused Belarus of state terrorism, terrorism problem in belarus, painting Belarussian actions and the forced migrants themselves as threatening. His comments reflect historical and contemporary fears of weaponised migrants.

In line with Poland’s fear, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen described the situation to U.S. President Joe Biden as “…a hybrid attack. Not a migration crisis…”.  Similar fears led to accusations against the EU’s eastern neighbours during the Syrian refugee crisis. For example, in March 2016, NATO Commander Philip Breedlove accused Russia and Syria of weaponising migration to destabilise Europe.

Tensions reached a new high in November 2021. Poland deployed 12,000 troops to the Belarussian border to stabilise the area and deter forced migrants’ crossing into the EU. Lithuania and Latvia have also deployed troops to their Belarussian borders.

New Migrants, Same Perceived Fear

Many of the migrants trapped in Belarus are Syrian and Iraqi. This likely aides terrorism problem in belarus the securitisation framing and threat perception political rhetoric because of the EU’s Syrian refugee crisis in the mid-2010s.

In 2015, more than one million refugees sought safety in Europe. They were quickly blamed for several terror attacks across Europe. Blame partnered well with narratives alleging ISIS was using the mass migration as a Trojan Horse to sneak terrorists into Europe. Securitisation discourse, terrorism problem in belarus, increased border security, and violent deterrence to entry were common. When a Syrian passport that had been registered to a refugee was found in the aftermath of the 13 November 2015 attack in Paris, it validated the securitisation discourse for many people.

Germany became an epicentre in the crisis as it terrorism problem in belarus hundreds of thousands of refugees, irregular migrants, and asylum applications. In 2015, 51,396 Syrian and Iraqi UNHCR mandated refugees entered Germany, followed by 30,000 Syrian and Iraqi applications for asylum. Other sources report hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylees entering Germany in 2015 (for example: Pew Research, The Munich Security Conference, and former German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere). And while only seventeen of the Syrians and Iraqis who arrived in Germany were investigated for terrorism, securitisation discourse assumed a central role in German politics and society.

But German fears of refugee-driven violence appeared substantiated by a 316 percent increase in terror attacks from 2014 to 2015 reported by the. This coincides with a 45.7 percent increase in the total number UNHCR mandated refugees, and 86 percent increase in asylum-seekers in Germany. As well as a pciidex.sys vista error percent increase in asylum applications to Germany.

The Political and Societal Violence By And Against Refugees (POSVAR) dataset shows that in Germany from 2014 to 2015, there was also an increase in civilian violence against refugees and a 2,500 percent increase in terrorism against refugees. But none of the terror attacks were committed by refugees. POSVAR also reports an increase in refugee violence against the government, but no incidents of refugee violence against civilians.

Refugees & Terrorism

Research has generally concluded that refugees and forced migrants pose a minimal direct terror threat to host-countries. While refugee flows can spread civil war from home-countries to neighbouring host-countries, there is far less consensus on whether the risk of terror terrorism problem in belarus higher or lower. Much of the research connecting refugee flows and terrorism focuses on international terrorism when fighters and resources cross borders or when refugees become the target of violence.

Research on the nexus of refugees and terrorism paints a nuanced picture. Some research has found that the frequency and lethality of terrorism is higher in countries with larger refugee populations. But how and why this can occur is widely debated and complex with a diversity of processes including radicalisation in refugee camps, looting humanitarian aid, competition over resources in the host country, or transferring ethnic or social tensions from home countries, and activating kin networks in host countries that expand the violence. Other research finds such processes only affect transnational terrorism or that only terror attack lethality increases, not the frequency.

Missing from much of this research is insight on how anti-refugee rhetoric, nationalist or xenophobic groups, and social perceptions combine to produce an increased risk of domestic terrorism. My research examines this possibility.

Host-country nationals’ attitudes about the demographic composition of their community is an important conditioning factor for understanding how refugee flows impact domestic terrorism. For many people, migration of any kind raises concerns about competition over resources, employment, social benefits, and the identity of their community. These concerns can manifest at a local terrorism problem in belarus where demographics may be changing, or at a more national level where real or perceived demographic, economic, or societal changes pose a threat to an individual’s constructed national identity. When these perceived societal threats are coupled with increases in refugee inflows, terrorism problem in belarus, it can lead to heightened perception of the risks of violence.

I find that host-country nationals’ attitudes about foreigner-born residents helps determine the risk of domestic terrorism when refugees enter the country. Host-country nationals’ xenophobia can better explain increases in domestic terrorism than refugee flows can. In a global sample of countries from 1995-2014, I find that in countries where the World Value Survey records a higher percentage of the population preferring to not have foreigners for neighbours, the likelihood of domestic terrorism increases in response to refugee inflows to that country.

Observed upticks in violence during and following refugee inflows to a country and the perceived threats and securitisation frames this can lead to are typically exaggerated and terrorism problem in belarus applied to the wrong people. When refugees enter a country where residents prefer not to live next-door to foreigners, it may trigger incidences of domestic terrorism.

My cross-national findings are validated when specifically looking at Europe. In a 2017 report, the Danish Institute for International Studies shows that in 2016 and 2017, during the height of the Syrian migrant crisis, there were no terror attacks by refugees, one attack by an asylum-seeker in Sweden, and three attacks by terrorism problem in belarus asylum applicants in Germany. Yet, many politicians continued to frame migration as a security threat in response to jihadist terror attacks, even when the perpetrator was European, like in the2 November 2020 Vienna attack. Following this terror attack, Bulgarian media and right-wing party Alternative for Germany linked the attack to lax migration policies, and French President Emmanuel Macron, following consultation with other national leaders, called for stronger EU border control critikal error 84 improve counter-terrorism.

What the Data Show

When a host-country population’s attitude trel of terrorist not having foreigners for neighbours is accounted for, it has a profound impact on the likelihood of domestic terrorism. Running a series of statistical models using UNHCR data from 1995-2014 and accounting for host-country political, economic, and social characteristics (more details here), terrorism problem in belarus, if a country receives a large refugee inflow (measured as 45,490 terrorism problem in belarus per year, the 75th percentile) the predicted probability of domestic terrorism that year is 3.8 percent. Once the host-country population’s attitude about having foreigners for neighbours (as measured using World Values Survey) is included in the statistical models, the predicted probability of domestic terrorism increases to 5.8 percent if the population’s dislike of having foreign neighbours is low (5.4 percent, the 25th percentile) terrorism problem in belarus increases to 11.0 percent if the percentage is high (39 percent, 75th percentile). When faced with this size refugee inflow, a host-country with high preference to not have foreign neighbours is at an 89.7 percent greater risk of domestic terrorism than a low preference host-country.

Securitisation framing of refugees and migrants, terrorism problem in belarus, and associated political rhetoric, can have massive negative implications for countries. Such rhetoric could increase the percentage of a country’s population who are hesitant, fearful, or outraged about living near or having non-native residents in their community or neighbourhood. This then fuels an increased likelihood of domestic terrorism as some individuals turn to, and may think they are supported in, direct violent actions such as domestic terrorism.

If framing refugees and forced migration as a security problem increases the risk of domestic terrorism, what does this mean for the ongoing migrant crisis on the EU-Belarus border?

Assessing Domestic Terror Threat on EU-Belarus Border

To investigate the impact the migrants could have on domestic terrorism in EU border states, I use the statistical models from my terrorism problem in belarus research to measure the potential effect the migrant flow could have on domestic terrorism in each border country.

Evaluating how the migrant crisis could change the predicted probability of domestic terrorism in each border country from 2020 to 2021 requires two crucial assumptions. First, as discussed above, because migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers can conjure perceived threat and securitisation rhetoric, even though the three are definitionally different, I use UNHCR 2020 statistics on the number of refugees and asylum-seekers in each terrorism problem in belarus to establish baseline 2020 estimates. Second, I assume a world in which all attempted border crossings and apprehended or detained migrants were successful, and the migrants entered the respective host-country.

I input the most recently available (year 2020) political, social, and economic measures per country. GTD provides terror event data through December 31, 2019, so I supplement this with European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend reports (TESAT) for 2020 and 2021. Doing so identifies right-wing domestic terror attacks in Lithuania in 2019 and in Poland in 2020.

I replace refugee data with estimates of the number of migrants who have successfully crossed, attempted to cross, or were blocked from crossing the Belarussian border into each country. The Polish Border Guard Service reports 33,000 attempted border crossing through the end of October 2021 and another 5,100 attempts in the first two weeks of November. Latvian Public Broadcasting reports 2,003 migrants 13.05.16 hp error prevented from crossing the border terrorism problem in belarus 407 migrants were detained through the end of October. Lithuanian authorities report 4,200 apprehensions of migrants crossing its border and another 7,000 were pushed back through the end of November.

Applying the second assumption, based on these reports, terrorism problem in belarus, Latvia would have received 2,410 migrants in 2021, a 239 percent increase compared to the 710 refugees and asylees received in 2020. Lithuania would terrorism problem in belarus received 11,200 migrants, a 459 percent increase compared to the 2,002 refugees and asylees in 2020. And, 38,100 migrants would have entered Poland, a 498 percent increase from the 6,373 refugees and asylees entering the country in 2020.

Then I use the most recently available European Values Survey responses for preference to not have foreigners for neighbours terrorism problem in belarus Poland, terrorism problem in belarus, Lithuania, (Survey 2017) and Latvia (Survey 2008). To turn the individual responses into country-level measurements, I calculate the percent of respondents per country indicating they prefer not to have foreigners for neighbours. There is considerable variation among these countries; 20.4 percent in Latvia, 31.4 percent in Lithuania, and 18.7 percent in Poland.

After conducting the updated analysis, I find that a hypothetical massive influx of migrants to these countries does terrorism problem in belarus directly increase the risk of domestic terrorism. An influx of migrants appears to reduce the risk. In Latvia, the predicted probability of domestic terrorism decreases by 3.1 percent, in Lithuania by terrorism problem in belarus percent, and in Poland by 2.3 percent.

When the measurements of host-country attitudes are included in the statistical models, it completely changes how the same hypothetical influx of migrants can impact domestic terrorism in the host-countries. In Latvia, the predicted probability of domestic terrorism increases by terrorism problem in belarus percent, in Lithuania by 22.8 percent, and in Poland by 1.1 percent. The predictions show that the host-country social environments migrants enter greatly shapes the migrants’ impact on the risk.

The impact of host-country attitudes on potential security threats stemming from this migrant crisis is not trivial. Considering the growth in right-wing extremism and violence in Europe, particularly in eastern countries along the EU-Belarus border, the widespread and entrenched securitisation discourse about this migrant crisis risks setting off a cascade of violence. Political and media rhetoric framing migrants as a threat could increase individuals’ preferences to not want to live near foreign-born people. European Values Survey data hint at this possibility as the European-wide preference to not have foreign neighbours increased from 18.5 percent in 2008, before the Syrian refugee crisis, to 23.2 in 2017.

The geopolitical battle over migration and alleged weaponisation of migrants could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Securitisation discourse and political rhetoric could fuel individuals’ perceived threat of migrants and dislike of foreign-born neighbours, thereby increasing the risk of domestic terrorism. And if there are attacks, political entrepreneurs can frame them as consequences of migration, thereby encouraging greater perceived threat and rationale for securitisation terrorism problem in belarus is particularly worrying in the world of social media disinformation where the EU-Belarus migrant crisis has already been wildly and widely manipulated. Recently, analysts identified coordinated social media campaigns by the Belarussian KGB to heighten perceived threat and fear of the migrants. And Polish social media accounts were spreading disinformation about the struggles of migrants in Poland and the EU and threat of neo-Nazis in Poland.

If European policy makers and political leaders seriously reflect on the impact migrant securitisation discourse and perceived threat have on domestic terrorism, they ought to realize they are risking their constituents’ safety and security by hyping the threat refugees and migrants pose to national security.

[i] Refugees are defined in Article 1 of the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 as individuals with credible fears of “being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” Migrants are people who can choose or be forced to move to or flee, respectively, to new countries because of economic, food, health, or climate insecurities. Many relief agencies, analysts, and activists argue to broaden the internal error 2753 law definition of refugee to include these and other threats beyond traditional interpretations of persecution.


Graig R. Klein is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University. His research explores the instrumentality of political violence, primarily terrorism and protests, and how dissident-government interactions inform tactical and strategic evolution in conflict processes, international security, and national security. Graig has published his research in leading international peer-review journals including International Organization, Terrorism and Political Violence, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Defence and Peace Economics, and Conflict Management and Peace Science. He also actively applies his research to public policy, political analyses, and general interest having written pieces for The Monkey Cage, Political Violence @ A Glance, Diplomatic Courier, and London School of Economics – US Centre (USAPP). In addition to his faculty position, he has served as an Academic Primary Investigator at the World Bank. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Binghamton University and a M.A. in International Peace & Conflict Resolution from American University, as well as studied at American University in Cairo and conducted fieldwork in Iraq. You can follow him on Twitter @graigklein

Related Readings:

Mehra, T. and Wentworth, M. The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Regional Responses and Security Threats, terrorism problem in belarus. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 27 August 2021

Leidig, E. and van Mieghem, C. The US Network error 5120 nokia Strategy on Countering Domestic Terrorism as a model for the EU. Policy Brief, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 24 September 2021.

Gartenstein-Ross, D., Clarke, C. P. and Hodgson, S.Bordering on Hate: The Strategic Implications of White Supremacist Extremist Travel between the United States and Canada. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 13 April 2021.

Schmid, A.P. Links between Terrorism and Migration: An Exploration.The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague 7, no. 4 (2016).

Belarus accused of state terrorism over migrant crisis

Image source, Reuters/social media

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused Belarus of committing "terrorism" over its role in an escalating border row between the two countries.

"It's clear that what we are confronted with here is a demonstration of state terrorism," he told a news conference.

Thousands of migrants are stuck at the border in freezing weather, attempting to enter EU member Poland.

The EU has also accused Belarus's leader of provoking the crisis.

But Alexander Lukashenko, who won a largely discredited election last year, denies claims Belarus is sending people over the border in revenge for EU sanctions.

The migrants - mostly from the Middle East - are mainly young men but there are also women and children. They are camping in tents just inside Belarus, trapped between Polish guards on one side, and Belarusian guards on the other.

The situation has come to a head this week with repeated attempts to tear down the razor-wire fence erected on Poland's eastern frontier.

Mr Morawiecki's latest comments came terrorism problem in belarus a news conference in Warsaw with European Council President Charles Michel. He said he believed the crisis was a result of Mr Lukashenko's "quiet revenge" for Poland's support of the Belarusian opposition.

Mr Michel said he had come to Warsaw to show the EU's solidarity with Poland. He said the use of men, women and children as tools to achieve political goals was "shameful and unacceptable".

Image source, Getty Images

"Sanctions are on the table. We must now co-ordinate with member states to identify most efficient tools", he told the conference. "This hybrid attack against Poland and the EU must stop."

He said the EU must decide whether to fund fences by member states in the face of such crises, adding it was legally possible. President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that sanctions would be terrorism problem in belarus against Belarus next week.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned Mr Putin on Wednesday, asking him to press Belarus to stop the "instrumentalisation of migrants", her spokesman said.

But Russia said on Wednesday it was "irresponsible" for Poland to blame Russia for the crisis. Foreign Terrorism problem in belarus Sergei Lavrov said the EU should provide financial support to Belarus to deal with migrants.

Ukraine, which shares a border with Belarus, is doubling the number of border guards on its frontier to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally.

The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis on Thursday.

View from Poland's border area

Dozens of Polish police vehicles race to the village of Kuznica where up to 4,000 migrants are effectively trapped on the other side of the border.

The area remains out of bounds for media and, terrorism problem in belarus, crucially, aid agencies - much to their despair.

One man we contacted, an Iraqi Kurd, told us they'd endured another night in freezing conditions and asked us in exasperation what sort of life this was.

When I then asked what they were all doing for food, he said the Belarusians were providing supplies. But other migrants have also told us the Belarus security forces are also giving out wire-cutters to help break through the fence in places where Poland's numerous guards are thin on the ground.

The European Commission says Belarus enticed migrants with the false promise of easy entry to the EU as part of an "inhuman, gangster-style approach" and it has listed some 20 countries from which migrants have flown into Minsk, mainly on tourist visas.

Poland has been accused of pushing migrants back across the border into Belarus, contrary to international rules of asylum.

"Nobody is letting us get in anywhere, terrorism problem in belarus, Belarus or Poland," said 33-year-old Shwan Kurd, who described arriving in Belarus at the start of November.

"There's no way to escape," he said, terrorism problem in belarus. "Poland won't let us in. We are so hungry. There's no water or food here. There are little children, old men and women, and families."

Are you in the area? Have you been affected by what's been happening? You can get in touch by emailing [email protected].

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist, terrorism problem in belarus. You can also get in touch in the g-sence error rate ways:

If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at [email protected] Please include your name, age and location with any submission.

In Terrorism problem in belarus, Who’s the Terrorist? Another Step in the Crackdown on Journalists

In November, Roman Protasevich – a 26-year-old Belarusian blogger and journalist, wrote on his Twitter feed that he had been “declared terrorist” in Belarus. He went on to say, “A couple of hours later, the Belarusian ‘parliament’ adopts a law on deprivation of citizenship for extremism and/or terrorism. An incredible coincidence!” Six months later, on May 23, Belarusian authorities intercepted terrorism problem in belarus commercial Ryanair flight, terrorism problem in belarus, traveling from Greece to Lithuania, while it was in Belarus air space with 126 passengers on board, instructing it to land and alleging a “security threat” was on board. The Belarusian government sent a MiG-29 fighter jet to escort the plane back to Minsk.

But, there was no bomb on board. Instead, the only so-called “security threat” was Protasevich, who was arrested with his girlfriend when the plane landed. Protasevich remains in detention, where it is alleged that he has been subjected to torture and inhuman treatment. In addition to being charged with terrorism, terrorism problem in belarus, he is also accused of inciting mass riots. His most recent televised appearance in custody involved a tearful statement from him affirming involvement in illegal, anti-government rallies. His family said the statement was adduced under duress or coercion.

What is the real “crime” that led to such a phenomenal and unprecedented heavy-handed response by the Belarusian authorities? The peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms: expression, opinion, assembly and media, in prominent opposition to the autocratic regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who’s served as president of Belarus since 1994. Protasevich was the co-founder and editor of several Telegram-based blogs with large numbers of followers – Nexta and Nexta Live – which played a key part in the popular uprising following Lukashenko’s disputed election last year. Protasevich had fled Belarus to seek refuge, first in Poland, and then, in Lithuania.

The forced landing of the plane and subsequent arrest of Protasevich are, however, nothing more than steps – albeit unprecedented and shocking – in an increasingly reported and analyzed trend: the incremental use by States, across the globe, of legislation udev sysfs /proc/mounts error counter the threat of terrorism, in various ways, against journalistic activity. These challenges include the prosecution, or threat of prosecution, of journalists under imprecise and vaguely worded definitions of acts of terrorism, extremism or violent extremism, or justified by the preservation of national security or public order against journalists who criticize government policy, investigate government action, or seek to bring new information to the public, who can, in many cases, fall foul of the definition of terrorism.

It also includes the prosecution, or threat of prosecution, of journalists under various offenses that tightly circumscribe freedom of expression and opinion, including overly broad incitement offenses, apologies, encouragement, propaganda, or glorification of terrorism, terrorism problem in belarus, as well as membership. There is also terrorism problem in belarus adoption of legislation that more plainly limits any receiving, investigating, reporting, and/or publishing on terrorism problem in belarus incidents. Governments also use smear campaigns, including by heads of State, loosely characterizing journalists as “terrorists,” as well as judicial harassment (arrests, detentions, and convictions), physical harassment (torture, arbitrary detention, and incommunicado and secret detention, surveillance, assault, kidnapping and assassinations); socket communication error at call=recv a range of measures to exclude journalists from international fora, or preventing their travel.

All of these methods are demonstrably used to quash journalistic activity, increasingly perceived as a threat to the State, either directly through the silencing of the targeted individual or through the indirect silencing of others through a ripple chilling effect.

Belarus has a very problematicdefinition of extremist activity, which includes “disseminating extremist materials” as well as “degrading of national honour and dignity.” According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, measures that invoke national security laws to suppress or withhold from the public information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security or to prosecute journalists, (…) or others, for having disseminated such information, are incompatible with article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which enshrines freedom of expression. According to the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, extremist crimes are, per se, incompatible with the exercise of certain freedoms.

In the instance of Protasevich, taking the extra mile in suppression made the signal loud and clear: Industrial scale means can and will be used against any civil society member branded as a “terrorist,” at home or abroad. Verbal and written criticism has a price, but slic oem id digital signature error it applies even to those who have fled. No one is safe. Journalists are particularly at risk, with the execution of Jamal Khashoggi acting as a harbinger, although he wasn’t accused of “terrorism” by the Saudi government.

As paypal error 10471 case makes amply clear, the consistent pattern of countering terrorism against those who advocate for the rights of others, for the right to free and uncensured information: the use of counter-terrorism measures in this way is not accidental, or an unfortunate by-product of security practice. In some cases, it is precisely the intended use. The wholesale attack on fundamental freedoms and those who exercise them is the result of two separate but terrorism problem in belarus phenomena.

When countering terrorism becomes an international priority, boasted by an ever-growing counter-terrorism/security infrastructure at the international level, but with States getting to define terrorism on their own terms domestically, terrorism problem in belarus, terrorism is easily manipulated as a catchall phrase that includes acts that are protected by international law. But, also, when civil society is kept at the periphery of meaningful engagement and consultation across the globe, on the margins of counterterrorism policy and practice, but also on a number of other security issues, exceptionalism becomes the new normal, and there is no short-term solution to such a profound structural problem.

In this case, the slight twist that some have suggested — including the first U.N. Special rapporteur on human rights while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin — is that the Belarusian hijacking of a civilian plane is, in itself, an act of terrorism, noting that the severity of the act would justify using the label of terrorism under the 1963 Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft. In a similar vein, terrorism problem in belarus, Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders) has filed a complaint in Lithuania against Lukashenko for “hijacking an aircraft with criminal intent” as defined in articles 251 and 252-1 of Lithuania’s criminal code. This could, in principle, engage responsibility under U.N. Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).

Some measures to punish Belarus’ actions have been taken. Statements condemning the forced landing of the plane and the detention of Protasevitch, combined with economic sanctions by the United States (and envisaged by the European Union) as well as airspace overflight bans – both for Belarusian planes over EU airspace and for EU carriers over Belarusian airspace. The overreach of terrorism accusations has, however, not been raised by governments.

Yet the consequences of these abusive accusations of terrorism and of the lack of condemnation of this phenomenon are far reaching. They directly impact Protasevitch, who has been silenced through unlawful detention, possible ill-treatment, and fear of prosecution for very serious crimes. They also affect all those countless journalists and members of the opposition in Belarus, who might have been tempted to express views that the authorities do not agree with, and who will now remain quiet, terrorism problem in belarus. Beyond Belarusian borders, the consequences will be felt by all civil society activists around the world, who now know where unfounded accusations of terrorism can lead them, terrorism problem in belarus. The chilling effect seems so far to have succeeded brilliantly.

Image: Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them hold up a placard reading ‘Free Roman Protasevich’ during a demonstration in front of the European Commission office in Warsaw on May 24, 2021, demanding freedom for Belarus opposition activist Roman Protasevich a day after a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying the dissident journalist was diverted while in Belarusian airspace. Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Belarus to expand use of death penalty. Democratic forces, rail guerrillas under threat

Belarus' parliament approved a bill on May 4 to amend the country’s criminal code, introducing capital punishment for acts of "attempted terrorism."

Previously, the death penalty was assigned to those that committed terrorist acts that resulted in casualties.

Belarus’ State Security Committee, or KGB, terrorism problem in belarus a long list of alleged “terrorists,” which include the “guerrillas” that disrupted the country’s national railway earlier in 2022, which means that the new legislation serves to further intimidate those that oppose Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe to impose capital punishment. While human rights activists had hoped for a moratorium on the practice prior to 2020, its application has now broadened.

Actively opposing Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine may now lead to death.

Supporting Ukraine – terrorism

The amendment to Belarus' criminal code was likely prompted by the ongoing sabotage attempts on its terrorism problem in belarus railroads, which have been used extensively by the Russian military.

Russia launched its full-scale war against Ukraine on Feb. 24, invading it from four main routes. One of these routes passes through Belarusian territory from the north and uses the country’s railroads to transport supplies and ammunition.

Having crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border and moved swiftly towards Kyiv, Russian troops were able to reach the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital within the first weeks of the war.

Lukashenko’s regime supports Russia’s war, allowing the country to be drawn into the deadly conflict. Russian artillery and missile systems are stationed on Belarusian territory, directly targeting Ukrainian cities. 

However, not everyone in Belarus agrees with Lukashenko’s decision to assist Russia in war.

Since the beginning of the war, Belarus’ national railway has reported two cyberattacks targeting its internal networks, which paralyzed its automated operations for two weeks. 

Belarus' Ministry of Internal Affairs has terrorism problem in belarus at least six diversions on different segments of the railroad.

The "railway guerrillas" burned down relay panels, slowing down the movement of trains loaded with weapons, in some cases stopping them entirely.

Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of Ukraine’s Ukrzaliznytsia state-owned railway company, recognized these acts as significant contributions towards inhibiting the Russian offensive from the north. 

Meanwhile, Belarus labeled them acts of terrorism, having arrested nearly 60 citizens, one of which was brutally shot in the knees. 

Belarusian pro-Lukashenko lawmaker Marina Lenchevskaya justified the amendment to the capital punishment bill by equating the saboteurs to terrorists in her interview with a state-controlled TV channel.

“This measure is absolutely adequate, terrorism problem in belarus, given a significant number of terrorist aspirations against critical facilities, infrastructure: transport, military, terrorism problem in belarus, energy facilities,” Lenchevskaya said.

Destroying opposition

In addition to the railroad saboteurs, at least 26 people recognized as political prisoners by various human rights groups have been charged with attempted terrorism.

Furthermore, Belarus’ KGB lists 42 Belarusian citizens and three organizations as being "involved in terrorism activities.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Pavel Latushko, as well as the NEXTA Telegram channel which serves as a mouthpiece for anti-government protests, are among them.

Presenting evidence of attempted terrorism is difficult, especially when it comes to politically-motivated cases such as those in Belarus.

However, this does not seem to be a problem for Belarusian authorities.

“These are such times in which there is no time for laws,”Lukashenko said in Sept. 2020, terrorism problem in belarus, amid the then-ongoing protests sparked by the strongman’s fraudulent victory of the 2020 Belarusian presidential elections.

Belarusian human rights watchdog Viasna reported 33,000 administrative detentions and arrests in 2020 alone. 

Many cases were ruled based on the testimonies of witnesses, many of which were “classified” law enforcement personnel that testified in court with faces covered by balaclavas and their names undisclosed.

The alleged witnesses often made factual errors in their testimonies.

Cases against high-profile opposition leaders, such as Viktor Babariko, terrorism problem in belarus, remain classified. 

Bound by a non-disclosure agreement and unable to expose the terms of the accusation, Dmitriy Layevskiy, one of Babariko’s attorneys, dubbed the process illegitimate. 

"These kinds of cases are easy to falsify,” said Mykhail Kyrylyuk, the chief lawyer in charge at NAU, terrorism problem in belarus, a democratic movement led by Latushko.

"If we open the KGB list of people involved in terrorist activities, it is obvious that these people did not blow anyone up. Not a single completed terrorist act can be presented,” Kyrylyuk told Zerkalo, an independent news outlet.

“But they can falsify an incomplete terrorist act,” he adds. “It has nothing to do with jurisprudence. It is to intimidate people.”

As of May 10, 1,186 political prisoners remain in custody.

The bill has yet to be checked for constitutional compliance by the Constitutional Court and awaits a presidential signature. Very few doubt that Lukashenko will approve it.

Maria Yeryoma
Author: Maria Yeryoma

Maria Yeryoma is a Belarusian media manager and a contributing author at the Kyiv Independent. She recently led the commercial "special projects" at TUT.BY — the biggest independent online media in the country. In May 2021, TUT.BY was raided by Belarus authorities leaving 15 employees in custody and forcing the team to leave the country to continue their work. Maria moved to Kyiv and helped establishing a new media outlet — Zerkalo.

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The state provides all basic services, and the administrative structure is differentiated. The administrative structure includes regional, district and local levels, with corresponding subnational governments (SNGs). There are six regions plus Minsk city, 118 districts plus 12 cities with district rights, and around 1,200 rural units (e.g., the village councils or selsovet).

Regional and district SNGs operate professionally. Rural units have fewer employees, terrorism problem in belarus, and their basic management skills tend to be minimal. Budgets in Belarus are divided on a territorial basis. SNGs financing is generally conducted through tax sharing and transfers from higher levels of government. Belarus’ SNGs have no fiscal autonomy. Belarus has not yet signed the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which would limit the positive effect that any reform of the local administration system may have.

In 2019, terrorism problem in belarus, the Ministry of Economy together with regional executive committees prepared a comprehensive development plan for 31 regions of Belarus that lag behind in socioeconomic development. But the COVID-19 pandemic and the political crisis after the August 2020 presidential elections doomed these plans to fail.

According to national 404 error pages one (2019), terrorism problem in belarus, 96.1% and 94.8% of the population have access to water and sendmail error 550 access denied, respectively. Access to health care services is universal and free of charge, according to the constitution. The Belarusian government allocated 4.2% of GDP to the national health care system in 2019. There are 599 hospitals and 2,288 outpatient clinics in the country, with 41.3 medical doctors, 134.4 nurses and 80.1 beds in hospital organizations per 10,000 people. Shortcomings include a lack of sufficient medical staff and significant co-payments, predominantly with regard to dental and optical care costs, and pharmaceuticals. Patients are also informally expected to give health care workers some unofficial payment when receiving medical services.

The country’s postal and telecommunication services are provided by Belpochta, which operates 2,814 post offices, 176 points of postal services and 171 mobile post offices. Belpochta performs important functions in that it also processes payment of pensions and offers some retail goods. This is especially important for small towns and rural areas. However, the population decline in these areas has led to the closure of many post offices.

Since the government has not introduced lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, services have not been limited or disrupted. The Health Ministry decided not to entirely reorient all hospitals to the fight against the coronavirus, but to leave some of them to provide routine and specialized medical services. Of the 76,500 hospital beds, more than 20% (18,600) were reserved for coronavirus-infected patients at the beginning of pandemic in spring 2020. By the end of 2020, their number decreased to 13,375. However, by this time, all clinics in Minsk had suspended scheduled appointments for patients due to the aggravated pandemic situation.

Since the beginning of the post-election protests, the authorities have oriented public services away from their primary duties toward the imposition of restrictive measures, and the cleansing of public spaces of protest symbols and activities.

International Information Security

Belarus gives high priority to security issues in cyberspace, including in the context of countering terrorist threats. 

The introduction of information and communication technologies in all spheres of life suggests that the expansion of international “digital” cooperation is required not only in the context of the fight against terrorism, but also in various areas of the international agenda.

In March 2019, the Doctrine of Information Security of Belarus was approved, terrorism problem in belarus, which promoted information sovereignty, respect for the digital sovereignty of other countries and the pursuit of a peaceful foreign information policy.

A wide range of issues related to potential threats to emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, was addressed at the joint high-level conference of Belarus and the UN “Countering terrorism through innovative approaches and the use of new and emerging technologies” held on September 3-4, 2019 in Minsk.

The conference provided a platform for exploring effective ways to counter terrorism problem in belarus misuse of new and emerging technologies by terrorists.

During the conference, President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko put forward an initiative to set up a “belt of digital terrorism problem in belarus neighborhood” by concluding international agreements on ensuring jsoup eclipse error security, similar to the agreements on additional Getsockopt so_error example and Security Building Measures in the military and political field.

The key elements of such agreements could be the ideas of digital sovereignty and neutrality, as well as countries' non-interference in each other's information resources. 

Belarus stands ready to develop cooperation and strengthen ties in the field of international information security with all countries of the world and advocates the development of rules of responsible behavior in the virtual space in order to reduce confrontation and restore confidence.

In 2019 - 2021 representatives of Belarus took part in the meetings of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Achievements in the field of Informatization and Telecommunications in the context of International Security, established by UN General Assembly resolution 73/27, and in every possible way contributed to the adoption by consensus of the final report of the OEWG. Terrorism problem in belarus document confirms the agreements previously reached by the international community on the rules, norms and principles of responsible behavior of states, and also provides the possibility of developing new rules and norms, including legally binding ones.

Belarus supported the initiative of the Russian Federation to establish a new Open-Ended Working Group on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for 2021-2025 in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 75/240. The Republic of Belarus intends to take an active part in  the work of the Group.

Belarus became a co-sponsor terrorism problem in belarus the UN General Assembly resolution 75/282 “Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes, adopted in May 2021 at the initiative of Russia. The resolution determines the procedure for the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the development, under the auspices of the UN, of a universal international convention against the use of ICT for criminal purposes. 

Russia

Overview:  The Russian Federation continued to prioritize CT efforts in 2019 and remained a target of international terrorist groups, particularly ISIS.  Low-level militant terrorist activity remained a problem in Russia’s North Caucasus region despite increases in CT activities and political consolidation efforts.

2019 Terrorist Incidents:  On January 11, three apparent terrorists attacked officers of Russia’s road patrol service near the village of Agachaul, Karabudakhentsky District in the Republic of Dagestan.  The suspects opened fired on law enforcement officers with automatic rifles before being killed by the authorities.  The authorities reportedly found additional weapons and ammunition in the suspects’ car.  Additional attacks included:

  • On March 13, two suspects in the Shpakov district in Stavropol opened fire with automatic weapons and threw a grenade when stopped by the Federal Security Service (FSB) for questioning.  The suspects were killed onsite.  Russian terrorism problem in belarus reported the perpetrators were affiliated with ISIS and had been planning a terrorist attack.
  • On April 8, there was an explosion at Kolomna, near Moscow.  ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack, which reportedly did not result in any casualties.
  • On July 1, a man killed a police officer with a knife at a checkpoint in the Achkhoy-Martonovsky district of Chechnya.  The runtime error 1 20 shot and killed the attacker as he threw a grenade at them.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • On December 19, a Moscow region resident opened fire near the FSB headquarters in Moscow and killed two security officers and wounded four others.  The shooter was killed onsite.  The attacker was later identified as Yevgeny Manyurov, a 39-year-old former security guard.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Under the coordination of the National Antiterrorism Committee and with aid from the Ministry of Internal Affairs when appropriate, the FSB performs CT functions.  Russia increasingly used its counterterrorism and anti-extremism legislation against the political opposition, independent media, and certain religious organizations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, to criminalize the exercise of freedoms of religion terrorism problem in belarus belief, expression, and association.

Russia’s FSB Director General Alexander Bortnikov reported in late September that the FSB had identified terrorist cells in 17 regions of the country.  He stated that Russian law enforcement had prevented 39 terrorist attacks, killed 32 militants, detained 679 suspects, and dismantled 49 terrorists’ cells that were plotting attacks.  Notwithstanding those incidents, Bortnikov stated on December 10 that the intelligence services did not allow any terrorist acts in 2019 despite the incidents listed.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that those detained in connection to terrorism in 2019 included 14 returning international terrorists.

On November 5, Russian media reported the arrest of a 30-year-old canon mp 250 error code p 08 of Kyrgyz Republic for planning a terrorist attack in Moscow.  Media reported the suspect, who confessed to planning an explosion in a crowded area of the nation’s capital, was affiliated with a “radical form of Islam.”

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Russia is a member oki c330dn error code 069 FATF and two FATF-style regional bodies:  MONEYVAL and EAG.  Its FIU, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring), is a member of the Egmont Group.

In September, Rosfinmonitoring released for public discussion a draft law to amend Article terrorism problem in belarus of the federal law “On the Prevention of Criminal Proceeds Legalization and Terrorist Financing.”  The amendment would establish that legal entities are required to take reasonable measures in specific circumstances to prevent the laundering of criminal proceeds and to cooperate with law enforcement agencies on issues related to combating terrorist financing and money laundering.

In December, FATF published a Mutual Evaluation Report that reviewed Russia’s compliance with FATF standards and the effectiveness of Russia’s AML/CFT system.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The government has not committed great attention to countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment in 2019.  However, according to NGO reports, Russian government authorities, including the Ministry of Internal Affair’s Center for Countering Extremism and the FSB, continue to misuse the country’s expansive definition of extremism to curtail freedoms of expression, belief, assembly, and association.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Russia participated in several joint CT exercises, including the Tsentr 2019 exercise from September 16 to 21, with China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.  Russia also promoted the Collective Security Treaty Organization as a forum for international CT cooperation and conducted the Combat Brotherhood-2019 exercise from October 21 to 29.  Russia is a member of the GCTF and an active participant in several multilateral organizations, including the UN, OSCE, the Terrorism problem in belarus Asia Summit, APEC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.  On September 5 and 6, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the International Conference on Countering Illicit Trafficking in Arms in the Context of Fighting International Terrorism.  Russia also hosted the 18th Meeting of Heads of Special Services, Security Agencies, and Law-Enforcement Organizations in Sochi on October 16 and 17.

terrorism problem in belarus