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NGO law protects Russia from foreign influence – Putin

Published time: July 31, 2012 14:14
Edited time: August 01, 2012 01:22

President Vladimir Putin meeting with participants in the youth innovation forum Seliger 2012, on July 31. (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

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President Vladimir Putin says that by adopting the law labeling foreign-funded nonprofits involved in politics ‘foreign agents’, Russia, just like the US, wants to protect itself from external influence.

The Russian leader sees nothing wrong in requiring organizations that get funding from other countries to be registered as foreign agents.

“If foreigners pay for political activity, apparently they are expecting to get some result from that,” he noted speaking at an annual pro-Kremlin youth forum, Seliger.

Putin observed that the wording of the status – ‘foreign agent’ – was rejected by a certain part of the Russian society.

“This rule applies only to organizations that are involved in politics and get financing from abroad,” he stressed talking to the participants of the gathering in Tuesday.

“I believe that in Russia we can have a law similar to that adopted in the United States back in 1938. Why have they protected themselves this way from external influence and have been using this law for decades? Why can we not do the same in Russia?” Putin pointed out.

The law – that sparked a lot of criticism among Russian civil rights activists as well as from abroad – was recently approved by parliament and signed by the president.

During his visit to Seliger-2012, Putin was also asked to comment on his attitude to the white ribbon – which became the Russian opposition symbol after the December 4 parliamentary vote. He previously described it as "looking like contraceptives, [it’s] like they are fighting Aids".

Vladimir Putin underlined his deep respect for the participants of the protest rallies – many of who are patriots – and has nothing against color revolution symbols. However, “I felt sorry for the people who are using the technologies well-practiced elsewhere abroad," he explained.

Speaking at the forum, Putin also warned against forcing youngsters to join religious organizations. He admitted that work of young people in religious organizations belonging to traditional confessions is very important.

However, there is no need to create “some new quasi-Orthodox Komsomol” (in the USSR the Komsomol was a youth division of the Communist party)," Putin stressed. "No one can be forcefully driven into organizations and associations, but a voluntary unification will, of course, be welcomed and supported," he added.

On a different note, Putin stressed the importance of staff turnover and power continuity for Russia’s stable development.

Russia sees a change of power "in broad sense of this word," Putin stated, citing the retention of two-thirds of the government as an example.

He also noted that he sees nothing worrying about his decision to serve a third term in the Kremlin.

“Everything is changing. Life is changing, the country is changing. The politics is changing. The question is at what pace, under what terms and rules,” Putin said.

The Russian leader pointed out that he had had an opportunity to change Russian constitutional law during his previous term in office and then be elected for a third time. The Constitution bars the president from serving more than two consecutive terms, he said.

Putin said he decided not to make amendments to the law “to suit” him and moved to a more modest position of Prime Minister “a very important one, of course, for the vital activities of the state."

Four years on, “in accordance with the Constitution”, and exercising his constitutional rights, Putin ran for the presidency and won the March 4 poll.

“I believe it’s a very important signal for our society. Not even one, but several. Firstly, nothing catastrophic happens with such change of power. Secondly, when all the constitutional rules are observed, the country continues functioning and developing,” the President underlined.

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