NEWS21 May 2013

Russian pollster ordered to register as a ‘spy’

Europe Government

RUSSIA — Russia’s only independent polling agency, the Levada Centre, may be forced to close after Russian prosecutors ordered it to register as a ‘foreign agent’ – a term synonymous with being a spy.

The prosecutors’ move was as a result of a new law designed to clamp down on NGOs that receive any funding from abroad and engage in political activity.

As a result, Levada Centre’s director Lev Gudkov said that prosecutors had not only threated the organisation with sanctions but had undermined its authority.

In a statement, Gudkov said: “Basically, the extremely vague definitions of ‘political activity’ and ‘foreign funding’ being applied here allow for the most arbitrary and elastic interpretations.”

The statement continued: “The warning puts the Yuri Levada Analytical Centre in an extremely difficult position, in effect forcing it to cease its activity as an independent sociological research organisation, carrying out systematic polls of public opinion in Russia.”

Photo by Andrei Romanenko