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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U. S. Institute Dismisses 'Influence Agent' Charge

Leaders of a U. S. institute dedicated to helping the former Soviet Union adopt democracy and market reforms dismissed accusations Thursday by Russian hardliners that they were "agents of influence" responsible for the fall of the Soviet empire.

The two representatives of the Washington-based Krieble Institute of the Free Congress Foundation said they had operated in the open since they began meeting with top level officials in October 1989.

Robert Krieble, 77, the group's founder, called the charge that he helped bring down the Soviet empire "a great honor", but added, "We decided that the Russian people ought to know everything about us".

Krieble's group came under attack from hardliners in November when Sergei Baburin, cochairman of the National Salvation Front, wrote in Sovyetskaya Rossiya that the institute aimed to influence public opinion through Russian agents.

The article triggered a wave of about 15 similar reports that accused the institute and other Western groups of "processing" Russians to serve as agents and infiltrate the government and economic structures.

"We have always operated in the open and have made no attempt to hide anything", said Paul Weyrich, a prominent American conservative and the institute's president.

Krieble created the institute in 1986. His aim was "to devote his energies to the dissolution of the Soviet Union", according to an institute brochure.