Putin Slams Allegations of NGO Crackdown
- The Moscow Times
- Apr. 05 2013 00:00
- Last edited 22:15
Onáthe eve toáhis visit toáGermany andáthe Netherlands, President Vladimir Putin angrily denied that theáKremlin is waging aácrackdown against NGOs andáthe country's civil society.
In anáinterview with German broadcaster ARD, Putin rebuffed aáreporter foráarguing that theáongoing raids ináNGO offices are seen as anáintimidation. "I believe that YOU are intimidating theáGerman public. Nothing like that is happening andáthere is no need toáintimidate people," he was quoted as saying, according toáexcerpts released byáemail Friday.
Putin defended theálaw that obligates national NGOs toáregister as foreign agents if they use foreign funds toáfinance political activity, byáarguing that it does not ban or limit anything andáforces no closures. "No activity, even inádomestic politics with foreign funding, is forbidden. We just want toáknow, who gets this money andáfor what it is spent," he said.
Prosecutors, tax inspectors andáother officials have searched offices andáconfiscated documents atámore than aáhundred NGOS over theápast two weeks, prompting anáinternational outcry. Among those organizations targeted were two leading German NGOs, including theáKonrad Adenauer Foundation, which is run byáChancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party, or CDU.
Putin is due toáhold talks with Merkel this Sunday, when he both leaders will open theáHanover Industry Trade Fair. Merkel, who has been markedly more critical ofáPutin since his return toáthe presidency last year, has already said through her spokesman that she will raise theáNGO issue.
On Monday, Putin is expected ináAmsterdam forátalks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte andáto open theáNetherlands-Russia Year 2013, which includes joint events onáculture, theáeconomy, andásociety.
Rights activists have announced protests during Putin's trip.