Russia investing in soft power

July 25, 2013 at 9:53 AM

MOSCOW, July 25 (UPI) -- A Russian agency tasked with advocating national policy abroad was awarded more money through a presidential decree, the government said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order increasing the amount of money available for Rossotrudnichestvo, the government's foreign outreach arm.

The agency was created in 2008 by President Dmitry Medvedev to promote Russian political and economic interests abroad.

"Rossotrudnichestvo [will be responsible] for events organizing the collaboration and solidarity of Russians abroad, and providing for their educational, cultural and other humanitarian needs," said a government statement published Wednesday by state news agency RIA Novosti.

The news agency said it wasn't clear how much was allocated to Rossotrudnichestvo but suggested the increase was in the range of tens of billions of dollars.

Legislation governing the work of non-governmental organizations in Russia was seen as a move by Putin to stifle foreign influence in the country.

Putin backed a measure requiring NGO's to register as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from foreign governments.

Putin's critics accuse him of silencing his critics amid widespread frustration with his election last year to a third non-consecutive term as president.

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