‘Hypocritical’: Russian Foreign Ministry blasts US statements over NED undesirability

© Maksim Blinov
Russian diplomats say that the US concern over inclusion of the National Endowment for Democracy into the list of undesirable groups was hardly justified as this NGO is known for projects aimed at regime change in foreign nations.

The ‘deep concern’ expressed by the [US] State Department over the fate of the Russian civil society in connection with recognition of the National Endowment for Democracy’s activities as undesirable on Russian territory decisively has a flavor of hypocrisy,” reads the statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

An analysis of real-life projects sponsored and executed by this organization shows that the majority of those were destined to misbalance the internal political situation in countries that attempt to remain independent and act in accordance with their own national interests, the ministry added.

The diplomats also stated that the groups conducting constructive work based on demand from the society will always be valued and supported in Russia, including the cases when such work is aimed at development of the democracy.

But we will never put up with lecturing and open interference into our domestic affairs on the part of foreign structures,” the ministry’s statement reads.

READ MORE: US National Endowment for Democracy labeled ‘undesirable’ group under new law

The comment was prompted by the words of Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department Mark Toner, who earlier this week described the inclusion of the National Endowment for Democracy into the Russian list of undesirable organizations as “heightening concern” and “another intentional step to isolate the Russian people from the world.”

On Wednesday the Russian Justice Ministry officially declared the NED an undesirable group after Prosecutor General’s Office reported that the US NGO spent over $5 million in 2013 and 2014 on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of military service.

The law on undesirable foreign organizations came into force in Russia in late May this year. It allows the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to create a proscribed list of ‘undesirable foreign organizations’, making the activities of such groups in Russia illegal. The main criterion for putting a foreign or international NGO on the list is a “threat to the constitutional order and defense capability, or to the security of the Russian state.”

Non-compliance with the ban can be punished by administrative penalties, and for repeated and aggravated offenses can carry prison sentences of up to six years. Russian citizens and organizations that continue to work with banned groups would face administrative fines only.