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Levada Center recognized as foreign agent

May 07, 2013, 12:08 UTC+3
The center is one of the most authoritative sociological services of the country
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The Prosecutor General's Office /PGO/ checked the independent non-governmental organization (NGO) Yuri Levada Analytical Center, one of the most authoritative sociological services of the country. The PGO believes 3.9 million roubles were transferred to Levada accounts from abroad in the period from December 26, 2012 through March 24, 2013, a PGO source told the Izvestia.

The analytical center received money from U.S. Open Society, as well as from Italian, British, Polish and Korean organizations, the newspaper writes.

After the beginning of the check run by the PGO, Levada-Center conducted a number of polls whose results were unpleasant for the authorities, the Izvestia reminds. For example, it released a report than more than half of Russians agreed with the evaluation of United Russia as "a party of crooks and thieves," and called Dmitry Medvedev's Cabinet "ineffective."

The leadership of United Russia believes that the April pools were conducted deliberately, to present the PGO's check as revenge on the part of the authorities.

"I'd underline here reverse causal relationship," deputy speaker of the State Duma /lower house of the Russian parliament/ Sergei Zheleznyak told the newspaper. "Levada Center tried to give as much publicity as possible to its reports, which were very opposition-minded, in order to find a false justification of government bodies' claims."

But director general of the council for national strategy Valery Khomyakov believes otherwise: it is the above polls that resulted in Levada Center's being named "a foreign agent."

"If they had conducted other kinds of polls and found out that, for example, Opposition activists Alexei Navalny is little known and not respected in Russia, perhaps, no such statements would ever have come out," he added.

Director general of the political information center Alexei Mukhin says he had heard before that the sociological center had been funded from abroad. "Levada Center's activity is suspicious. There arise questions concerning the center's solvency," Mukhin said.

In April, Levada Center also polled Russians for their attitude to political prisoners, and the Bolotnaya and Kirovles cases. According to the polls, one-third of respondents called for stopping the persecution of the political opponents of the authorities, in the first place former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and blogger Alexei Navalny.

The notion "foreign agents' appeared in July 2012, when a lawbill on non-government organizations was submitted to the State Duma. It envisioned the registration of all politically active NGOs funded from abroad in a special Justice Ministry registry in which they were to be described as "performing the function of foreign agent."

After the law came into effect, the Golos association, the Memorial rights center, the Kazan-based Agora association and Nizhny Novgorod' Committee Against Tortures were recognized as foreign agents.

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