President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced his opponents who receive financial assistance from abroad and said Russia would not allow democracy to be imposed on it from the outside.
Putin said in his annual state-of-the-nation address that it should be illegal for anyone who receives money from abroad to be a politician in Russia, in a clear stab at his opponents.
“Direct or indirect outside interference in our internal political processes is unacceptable,” Putin said in the speech in the Kremlin.
“People who receive money from abroad for their political activities — most likely serving foreign national interests — cannot be politicians in the Russian Federation.” Putin’s annual speech to the Federal Assembly of both houses of parliament came one year after disputed parliamentary elections sparked the first mass street protests against his domination of Russia.
“A civilised dialogue is only possible with those political forces who put forward, justify and formulate their demands in a civilised manner and defend them within the bounds of the law,” Putin added.
“Changing, modernising a political system is a natural and even necessary process,” Putin said in the one-and-a-half hour speech.
In May, the Russian strongman returned to the Kremlin for a third term as president following his four-year stint as prime minister, with activists complaining he had swiftly hit back with a crackdown on civil society.
This included a law rushed through parliament forcing NGOs who receive money from abroad to register as foreign agents, a move activists said stigmatised their work.
Russia earlier this year also expelled US development agency USAID on the grounds it was funding pro-democracy projects, which Moscow said amounted to interference in its internal affairs.