18 Oct 2017 17:13

Russian law on foreign agents much more liberal than its U.S. analogue - Kiriyenko

SOCHI. Oct 18 (Interfax) - Russian presidential administration first deputy head Sergei Kiriyenko has criticized the United States' plans to designate certain Russian media outlets foreign agents and maintained that the corresponding Russian law is much more democratic in this regard.

"Some people in our country often like to refer to the experience of American democracy, but the American law on foreign agents is incomparably tougher. They are trying to qualify Russia Today as a foreign agent, while this is a media outlet. This is just ridiculous," Kiriyenko told Interfax on Wednesday.

"The Russian law is incomparably more liberal," he said.

"All that it stipulates is that a non-governmental organization should decide where it stands: if it is financed from abroad, let it exist this way, no questions. The only issue is that this should be openly declared, but this doesn't entail any restrictions," he said.

"There are hundreds of thousands of non-governmental organizations in our country, but the register [of foreign agents] includes fewer than a hundred," he said.

"It seems to me that all speculation that the law obstructs non-governmental organizations - of course it doesn't, only a fraction of a percent of all NGOs are on the register. Moreover, the register does not impose any restrictions on them; after all, this is not a ban on operations and not a list of unwelcome or banned [organizations]. I believe this is quite a correct state of affairs, which works everywhere around the world," Kiriyenko said.

"Moreover, you know, the number of presidential grants for NGOs has doubled, and the rules have become more transparent and open," he said.

"Significantly fewer large grants these days are given to Moscow-based organizations, and over 80% of them go to the provinces, to small and medium-sized NGOs," he said.

"While some non-governmental organizations used to say that they would be happy not to accept foreign money if they had the opportunity to accept Russian, nowadays there is such an opportunity, and a very tangible one," he said.