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Putin Says No 'Puppeteers' For Russian NGOs

31 January 2006 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that non governmental organizations in Russia should not be controlled by what he called "puppeteers from abroad."

Addressing reporters at a Kremlin press conference, Putin said NGOs should not be used as instruments in other states' foreign policy. He said they should be independent and their financing transparent.

Russia's Federal Security Service last week accused four British diplomats of spying and said one of them had provided money for Russian NGOs. Rights activists dismissed the accusation as a campaign to discredit NGOs following the passage of a controversial law that severely restricts their activities and financing.

Putin today said the alleged British spies should not be expelled. He said it would be better if Russia "could keep an eye" on them.

He said he believed the incident would not spoil relations with Britain.

(Interfax, ITAR-TASS, AP)

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