Moscow, Oct 13 (EFE) .- The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, assured today that the director of the independent Russian newspaper “Nóvaya Gazeta”, Dmitri Murátov, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will not be classified as a “foreign agent” if it complies with Russian law.
“Well, if you comply with Russian law, you don’t do anything that could give us reason to label you as a foreign agent, then everything will be fine,” Putin said at the plenary session of “Russia Energy Week.”
“If you use the Nobel Prize only as a shield and do something that violates Russian law, then that would be deliberate provocation for attention or for other reasons,” he added.
“Russian legislation has to be complied with,” he insisted, when asked about all the journalists who have been classified as foreign agents in recent times for having allegedly received foreign funding.
On the same day that Murátov received the Nobel, the popular website Bellingcat – which made its fame with investigations into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Donbas (2014) or the poisoning of agent Sergei Skripal (2018) -, and nine others journalists were declared foreign agents.
When asked if the imposition of this label on journalists seems normal, Putin replied that he did not.
“I don’t think the persecution of journalists is normal,” he said, but stressed that “unfortunately Russia is not the only country where this happens.”
Russia ranks 150th in Reporters Without Borders in freedom of the press, below countries such as Venezuela, Afghanistan or Burma.
Putin asserted that “it is the result of the country’s internal development and democratic processes.”
“Sometimes journalists can cross lines and run certain risks. And our goal is to protect them. Unfortunately, we don’t always succeed, that’s true,” he said.
Putin reiterated that the foreign agent law was not conceived by Russia, but by the US in the 1930s and is still in force there and is “applied in particular to Russian media.”
“So why can the US do it and we can’t?” Asked the Russian president.
Journalists qualified as foreign agents must be labeled as such in any information, photograph or text that they disseminate through any medium or social network.
If they don’t, they can be fined.
Putin further stated that “the accusations that democracy is dead in Russia is an exaggeration, as (American writer) Mark Twain said about rumors of his passing.”
Asked why he worries so much about the opposition that he has to imprison her, like the opposition leader Alexéi Navalni, the president replied that, if you look at the protests in his favor, “not everyone is in prison.”
“As for the people you mention, they are in prison not for their political activities, but for the crimes they committed (…),” he said, including foreign businessmen working or working in Russia, such as US investor Michael Calvey. .
“With regard to the opposition in general, I would say that the political opposition in Russia exists, works and criticizes the ruling party and the current power very strongly, sometimes more than in other countries,” he said. EFE
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Putin says Russian Nobel laureate won’t be declared foreign agent if he abides by law