Medvedev defends NGO registration law

Dec. 7, 2012 at 11:08 AM

MOSCOW, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Russia's prime minister asked what was wrong with the word "agent" as he defended a law stating some non-government organizations register as "foreign agents."

"What's wrong with the word 'agent?'" Dmitry Medvedev asked Friday during a television interview when asked if the word "agent" was synonymous with "spy." "Agent means 'representative,' and that's all."

"Anything else is just a coincidence," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

In November, a new law took effect requiring NGOs receiving funding from other countries to register as foreign agents. Critics say the law, along with another one signed recently by President Vladimir Putin that expands the definition of treason, is part of a crackdown on dissidents pushing for legal reform and respect for human rights.

"The law only concerns those NGOs that engage in politics and receive money from foreign governments," Medvedev said Friday. "Imagine if an NGO in the U.S. dealing with politics received money from the Russian federal budget. There would be an outcry."

Russian human rights organizations have reacted angrily to the new law, which went into effect in November, RIA Novosti said.

Russia's oldest rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, has said it would close rather than comply with the law. Other rights groups have said they would not register.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
10-month-old Turkish baby rescued after floating out to sea
Immigrant who shot S.F. woman was deported 5 times in the past, police say
Putin congratulates U.S. on Independence Day
Wisconsin's Walker in hot seat over open-records restrictions
5-year-old Florida girl killed by leaping sturgeon