Kremlin accuses the U.S. of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs

Ivanov accuses U.S. of meddling, defends Russia’s record

19/04/2007 15:39 MOSCOW, April 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s first deputy PM has accused the U.S. of meddling in Moscow’s internal affairs, and has defended Russian democracy against attempts by Washington to promote President Bush’s freedom agenda.

In an interview with The Financial Times, published Thursday, Sergei Ivanov, one of the Russian government’s most senior officials, also defended Russia’s democratic credentials and using emotional language described the examples presented to the Russian people as democratic success stories.

“When the State Department publicly says, ‘We will disburse money to NGOs,’ this is clear interference in our internal affairs,” Ivanov said.

In a clear reference to the recent U.S. State Department report “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2006”, published last Thursday, which blasted democratic processes in Russia and the current situation with NGOs and rights protection, and was in turn severely criticized by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Ivanov said the developed democracies had even more stringent rules for foreign NGOs than Russia.

“Imagine if foreign capital financed any U.S. political party, or in Britain, how this would be seen. You would say you don’t like this. And we don’t like it either,” he said.

When reminded about his article for The Wall Street Journal in which the official responsible for economic diversification and innovation, then the defense minister, described outside interference as one of the chief threats to Russia last year, he cited the latest spy row in which British Embassy official Marc Doe was caught red handed communicating with an undercover agent.

“We caught them and showed the entire world what the embassy of Her Majesty is up to,” he said.

Ivanov sought to discourage the West from supporting movements opposing the current regime.

“The economic and political situation in Russia today is very stable. . . this will be money thrown into the wind. It will be spent in vain. There will be no dividend,” he said.

He declined to talk about the Litvinenko radioactive poisoning, which seemed to add a whiff of Cold War cordite into the relations between Russia and the West.

“I have nothing to add, apart from what I said before, that he was never a carrier of secrets,” he said.

Ivanov said the Russians want democracy as such but do not like it being imposed from the outside.

“Democracy is best,” he said.

However, the Russian official highlighted national and cultural differences that shape democratic development, and denounced the unilateralist policies evident on the international scene in recent years. President Vladimir Putin’s highly controversial speech at the security conference in Munich, he said, was “saying aloud what many had been whispering.”

“It is naive to think that there will be Anglo-Saxon democracy in China or in the Arab world.”

“General principles should be the same everywhere. But you can’t rake everything in and. . . force everyone to have the same democracy.”

Ivanov defended Russia’s democratic record and denounced current methods used for promoting speedy democratization as self-defeating.

“Don’t forget we have a very young democracy, it is only 15 years old. You have been living with your democracy for centuries. You can’t just plant democracy like a potato.”

He used an expletive to describe the current situation in countries highlighted by the U.S., mainly by George W. Bush, as benchmarks of democratization.

“When people see this total, excuse me for the rude word, bardak, this total mess, [they] will say we don’t need any democracy at all. Appoint us a tsar, give us our wages and stop bothering us with your democracy.”

“Iraq and other beacons of democracy that we see around our borders, like Georgia and Ukraine, only undermine [the concept of] democracy,” he said.

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