Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Russia's Only Independent Pollster Resists 'Foreign Agent' Tag

Russia's only independent pollster could be forced to register as a foreign agent under a law which President Vladimir Putin's critics say is designed to tighten controls on groups that do not toe the official line. Some critics saw the possibility of Levada joining human rights groups on the list of "foreign agents" as evidence that Putin is clamping down on civil rights even while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's is in Moscow for talks. Prosecutors say Levada had received 3.9 million roubles ($125,400) between December 26, 2012 and March 24 this year from Italy, the United States, Britain, Poland and South Korea. Levada's director, Lev Gudkov, said authorities had started looking into Levada in mid-April, when it published a poll saying a majority of Russians agreed with the opposition's depiction of Putin's ruling party as "swindlers and thieves". "We will never declare that we are foreign agents," Gudkov said.

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