Putin Calls Raids on Foreign NGOs in Russia ‘Routine Events’

Russian President Vladimir Putin called raids at non-government organizations “routine events” after prosecutors and tax inspectors searched offices including Amnesty International.

The checks are designed to determine whether the NGOs’ activities “comply with their declared goals” and whether their work meets Russian legislation on the “inadmissibility of financing political activities from abroad,” Putin said today at a meeting with human-rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

Russia in 2012 required groups that get money from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and submit to tighter control. The Justice Ministry threatened to close human-rights organization Memorial, vote-monitor Golos and the Moscow branch of graft watchdog Transparency International after they vowed to flout the rules. Putin’s administration ordered the closing of U.S. aid agency USAID, which has financed Golos and Memorial.

The St. Petersburg office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which affiliated with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was searched March 26 by Russia’s state prosecutor. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is affiliated with Germany’s Social Democratic Party, has also been targeted.

Germany has “great concern” over raids undertaken by Russian authorities on German political foundations in Moscow and St. Petersburg, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said March 27.

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