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MOSCOW, November 23. /TASS/. Civil society in Russia lives abiding by rather liberal laws, but no one will be allowed to use this channel to influence the Russian Federation’s policy from abroad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview for the TASS special project Top Officials.
Putin admitted that laws equalizing NGOs with foreign agents or restrictions for other countries’ nationals to own Russian media hinder the use of foreign funds for domestic political struggle in Russia.
“Of course, the recent decisions restrict the use of foreign funds in domestic political struggle in Russia. They kind of put up certain barriers but these barriers are bypassed and we should watch closely to prevent this,” he said.
“None of the foreign countries with a sense of self-respect will ever let the use of outside finances in internal political struggle. Try and do something like this in the U.S. and you’ll land in jail at once,” Putin said.
“They have far more rigid state agencies there than we do here. On the surface everything looks dignified and democratic but all chances vanish as soon as you get down to such things,” he said.
“Here in Russia everything is far more liberal. Everything is possible. And the issues of the progress of democracy are as crucial for Russia as for any other state. But we must understand that this isn’t democracy for the sake of democracy,” the Russian president said.
“This is for the people, for their better life and real access to the levers of practical control over the country. We should not create conditions letting foreign countries make us weaker, subdue us to their will and put pressure on us from the inside, impacting on our policy in their own petty interests,” he said.
“If people have genuine interest in improving the structure of governance, public control over their work, citizens’ access to power agencies, law enforcing, administrative and all sorts of others, this is absolutely right and should be supported,” Putin said.
“And I will always support it. But if I see something is done exclusively to satisfy someone ‘over there’, to dance to the alien tunes and to force us to do the same, I will definitely fight back,” he said.
Putin said he is ready to be criticized by the opposition.
“You can’t turn everyone into your allies and you shouldn’t even dream of it. On the contrary, it’s good to have around some people who have doubts. But they should propose constructive solutions,” he said.
“If we face opponents of this type, they are very useful. But others who act along the ‘Worse is Better’ formula exist too. And this is also inescapable, unfortunately,” Putin said.
He said everyone can defend their viewpoints.
“We can and must do it but within the confines of law, as I’ve always said. If we break out of these brackets we’ll dash into destruction. And then it’ll be too difficult for us to reassemble the things we hold dear,” Putin said.