MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned foreign-funded organizations against "meddling" in the country's affairs.
Russia last year passed a law requiring all such nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to register as "foreign agents" — a derogatory term in the Russian language.
The bill also made foreign-funded NGOs liable to an unlimited number of inspections and checks that could paralyze the activities of any charity, human rights activists have said.
In his speech to the board of the intelligence agency FSB, successor to the KGB, Putin on Thursday defended the bill, saying that Moscow won't tolerate "any meddling in our internal affairs, any forms of pressure on Russia."
Since the law was passed in November not a single Russian NGOs has registered as a foreign agent, thus protesting the legislation. Putin on Thursday insisted that the NGOs abide by this law.
Putin also hinted at his view of the foreign-funded NGOs' hidden agenda.
"No one has the monopoly of speaking on the behalf of the entire Russian society — let alone the organizations which are run [by foreigners] and funded by foreign resources, which means they cannot help serving foreign interests," he said.
The Interfax news agency quoted FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov as saying that the United States has "raised geopolitical pressure" and still views Russia "as a major rival on the international stage."
Critics say Putin, a former KGB colonel, has used the NGO law and other recent legislation to incite anti-Americanism. Putin insisted amid last year's anti-government protests that they were inspired by the State Department.
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