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Russian media comment on the interview Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave to The Times

July 30, 2012, 13:55 UTC+3
Medvedev gave the interview during his stay in London where he came to attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony
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MOSCOW, July 30 (Itar-Tass) — Russian media comment on the interview Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave to The Times.

Medvedev has supported the policy course of Vladimir Putin, Izvestia stresses. In an interview to The Times the RF government head justified the adoption of the law on NGOs, called for displaying a calmer attitude to the Pussy Riot case and disproved critics’ claims that Russia has deviated from the path of democracy.

Medvedev gave the interview during his stay in London where he came to attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony. Needless to say that a number of questions but by the UK representatives were about the RF internal political processes. The journalists said that there are concerns over Russia's deviation from the democratic path: “The laws that clamp down on rallies, the trial of Pussy Riot girl’s punk group is underway.”

The prime minister, however, evaded answering the question about his attitude to the law on rallies, the publication stresses. However, those assessments of the legislative initiatives and events that cause sharp indignation of the opponents of the authorities were enough to understand: Dmitry Medvedev does not intend to criticise Putin’s course. “In my view, nothing has happened in our legislative field recently,” the prime minister stated, although many experts have repeatedly voiced concern over the gradual winding down of Medvedev’s initiatives. The law on NGOs, the RF government head said, “in its content is absolutely consistent with a number of foreign laws, including the related American law.”

“No state can be indifferent to NGOs’ getting money from abroad for political activities. So it was necessary and possible to establish order in this sphere,” he said. “I am absolutely sure that it will not radically affect the activities of non-profit organisations - those involved in political issues, and those engaged in economic and humanitarian issues. There is no potential for conflict there,” he said. “And if law application problems arise, then the document can be corrected,” said the prime minister.

He also sees no drama in the Pussy Riot case. “This, too, should be treated calmer. Has a sentence been passed? No. So let’s wait for the court verdict,” Medvedev said trying to smooth over the situation. “The court should determine whether they committed a crime. If not, those who committed the act are lucky: they have become famous, but evaded the responsibility.”

Some might argue that the Pussy Riot case has nothing to do with the current internal political course. On the one hand, it is so. The story of the punk band started as a banal hooliganism. But as the court has consistently refused to release Pussy Riot on bail, the case assumed a clear political colouring. According to Izvestia, the Kremlin discussed the possibility of making a “political decision” on the arrested girls’ case. And the lawyer of one of the girls some time ago said that a source in the presidential administration assured him: the detained girls will be released under recognisance. But the miracle did not happen.

“When they say that Russia has got off the path of democratic reforms, it seems to me ridiculous,” Medvedev said in the interview. “Now there will be many parties and they within the law can do almost anything they want. The elections of governors have been returned. Is it not the civil society development results? So everything is all right with us,” concluded the prime minister.

Such was the general message of the internal policy part of the interview: “everything is OK” with democracy in Russia.

It is difficult to say how much Medvedev was sincere in his answers, writes Izvestia. Perhaps he was absolutely sincere. But even if he pretended, generally speaking, he had no other way. The leader of the ruling party cannot criticise the laws taken by his fellow party members. Otherwise, it would mean that he has no control over the processes occurring within United Russia. Similarly, the leader of the ruling party cannot criticise government policy. After all, he is the head of United Russia to support it.

The only - light - hint of criticism addressed to the president was the following Medvedev’s words. Asked whether he has enough time to place posts in Twitter, Medvedev said: “No manager can be adequate and modern if he ignores the modern information environment.”

It is well-known that Vladimir Putin does not care much about the Internet.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was Russia’s highest official at the opening of the Olympic Games, Vedomosti writes. Despite his new status, there was not a single question about economics in the interview with The Times, which he gave on the second day of the visit. He admitted in the interview that in addition to the world crisis, he talked about the internal and external policy of Russia with leaders of other countries at a reception given by Queen Elizabeth II.

So, according to Medvedev, with British Prime Minister David Cameron he discussed the conflict in Syria on which the two countries have largely different stance. In the Syrian issue Medvedev, unlike on the Libyan issue, expressed no views that would differ from Putin’s position. “The question arises: where resolutions end and military operations begin. We all witnessed this when resolutions on Libya were passed. It all finally ended, in fact, with an international intervention,” said the Russian prime minister, stressing that the peaceful settlement path has not yet been exhausted. According to him the story with Libya convinced him that “democracy imposed from outside, as a rule, is not effective, because democracy should develop from the inside.”

Medvedev reiterated the Kremlin’s official position concerning raising fines for violations at rallies and tightening control over NGOs.

Before sentencing Medvedev also called for displaying a calm attitude to the Pussy Riot trial, noting that “in some countries the responsibility for such actions would have been much tougher.” The prime minister is convinced that over the past four years, the civil society has become much more developed, but “when they say that the country has got off the path of democratic reforms, I think it’s rather ridiculous.”

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