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8 Aug, 2019 21:43

Russia accuses German broadcaster & foreign NGOs of meddling in election protests

Russia accuses German broadcaster & foreign NGOs of meddling in election protests

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and several foreign NGOs interfered in Russia’s internal affairs by calling on people to join the unsanctioned protests in the capital, Russian authorities say.

“Such media escapades are against to the norms of professional journalist ethics and constitute an attempt by the German media corporation to meddle in the internal affairs of Russia,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, warning that Moscow will respond in line with the country’s legislation in case of a repeat violation.

Germany’s ambassador to Moscow, Beate Grzeski, was called up to the ministry on Thursday for explanations. 

“Moscow, come out!” Deutsche Welle’s bureau in Russia wrote on Twitter on July 27, when 3,500 participated in an unsanctioned rally in central Moscow. Demonstrators took to the streets after opposition candidates were disqualified from the upcoming City Council election over paperwork irregularities. The event was marred by clashes, which resulted in around 1,000 detentions.

Last Saturday, when 1,500 gathered in the capital for another illegal protest, the German broadcaster informed its Twitter followers of the exact time of the rally, while an article on its website shared the route that protesters were planning to take.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said that foreign non-governmental organizations also made attempts to stir up the protest moods in the country in recent weeks.

US think tanks the Atlantic Council and Free Russia Foundation, as well as Canada-based Ukrainian World Congress “carry out anti-Russian information and propaganda campaigns” that are aimed at discrediting the country’s leadership, persuading the public opinion that the change of government is needed as well as “destabilizing the socio-political situation and escalating protest moods,” said Artur Zavalunov, head of the legal department at the Prosecutor General’s Office.

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These foreign NGOs also work to undermine Russia’s economy, promote the image of Russia as an aggressor, and urge foreign governments to apply political and sanction pressure on Moscow, he added.

Meddling into electoral process in Russia is also among the activities of these NGOs, Zavalunov said, promising that the prosecutors will “pay special attention” to such activities in the run-up to the September 8 vote.

Last month, the Atlantic Council, Free Russia Foundation and Ukrainian World Congress were placed on the list of ‘undesirable’ organizations due to being “a threat to the fundamentals of the constitutional system and the security” of the country. The move meant that those groups were barred from opening offices and disseminating their materials in Russia, under threat of fines and prison sentences for violations.

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The Interim Commission for the Protection of Russian State Sovereignty met on Thursday to discuss ways of protecting the upcoming election from external interference.

After the meeting, Senator Andrey Klimov told RT that “Russia’s aim isn’t to spin the confrontation” with the West. However, Moscow is determined to “shut any loopholes for such meddling to occur.”

Klimov said that the Russia already has all the needed legislation to curb any interference and the thing now is “to learn to use it effectively.”

“In line with our legislation, on our sovereign territory we can do a lot,” Klimov pointed out, adding that the Commission will formulate some new proposals in September.

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