Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Don't tell us what we think

Even the messengers are getting shot in Russia.

Russia Targets Pollster for 'Political Activity'
Russia's only independent polling agency said Monday it may have to close after prosecutors targeted it for "political activity" under a law spearheading President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on civil society.

Levada Center published a letter, dated last week, from prosecutors who said its polls and publications are "aimed at shaping public opinion on government policy" and demanded it cease publication until it registers as a "foreign agent" under a law passed last year.

Russia has pushed strongly in recent months to enforce the law, which requires all foreign-funded NGOs that engage in ill-defined political activities to register as "foreign agents"…

Levada receives between 1.5 and 3 percent of its funding from foreign sources, including longtime bêtes noires of Putin's foreign policy like the National Institute for Democracy and George Soros' Open Society Institute, according to center director Lev Gudkov…

The campaign has stoked public opinion against NGOs, according to a poll Levada released last week. Only 19 percent of Russians polled thought NGOs did any work of value.

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