[QODLink]
Europe

Putin warns of foreign meddling in Russia

Russian president vows in state of the nation address that Russia will not allow democracy to be imposed from abroad.
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2012 11:43
Putin said Russia would follow its own view on democracy and shrug off any "standards enforced on us from outside." [AFP]

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has warned against foreign meddling in Russian politics and criticised opposition politicians of being in the pay of foreign interests.

"Direct or indirect meddling in our internal political process is unacceptable," Putin said in his annual state of the nation address on Wednesday.

Putin, who last year accused the United States of encouraging opposition protests and claimed foreign governments spend money to seek to influence elections, said Russians receiving money from abroad should be barred from politics.

"A politician who receives money from beyond the borders of the Russian Federation cannot be a politician on its territory," added Putin.

The state of the nation speech is the first by Putin since winning a third term in March's election despite a wave of massive protests in Moscow.

In July, Putin signed a bill forcing foreign funded non-governmental groups involved in political activity to register as "foreign agents" in Russia.

Sergai Strokan, a staff writer for the Russian newspaper Kommersant told Al Jazeera that "Putin's speech was telling the opposition to think twice before they hit the streets in protest as they are now labelled as foreign agents."

Spiritual values

In the speech that also focused heavily on social issues, Putin promised to encourage families to have more children, create 25 million new jobs and develop new incentives for teachers, doctors, engineers and others.

Turning to the economy, he said: "Our entrepreneurs have often been accused of lacking patriotism.

"According to available data, nine out of 10 transactions by them go unchecked by our laws."

He also pledged to support "institutions that represent traditional spiritual values," a hint at even more state support for the Russian Orthodox Church.

In August, three members of the punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for performing a protest song in Moscow's main cathedral against the church's backing for Putin.

One of them was released on appeal, but two others are serving their sentences despite an international outrage over what was widely seen as the intolerance to dissent in Russia.

Putin said Russia would follow its own view on democracy and shrug off any "standards enforced on us from outside."

Putin said that on the global stage Russia's task will be to preserve its "national and spiritual identity," adding that the strengthening of the nation's military might should "guarantee its independence and security."

397

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.