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Putin Says Foreign Money Influencing Domestic Politics

(ITAR-TASS) MOSCOW, April 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says foreign money is being used to meddle in Russian domestic politics.

Putin made his comments during his annual state-of-the-nation speech to both houses of Russia's parliament. He did not name any specific countries. (Read the complete text in Russian.)

"There is a growth in the flow of money from abroad used for direct interference in our internal affairs," Putin said.

"In the past, in the era of colonialism, colonialist countries talked about their so-called civilizing role," he added. "Today, [some countries] use slogans of spreading democracy for the same purpose, and that is to gain unilateral advantages and ensure their own interests."

Earlier this week, the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, announced plans to investigate who financed the opposition groups that organized recent protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Yeltsin Tribute

In his speech, Putin also highlighted the growing wealth of Russia, which he said had joined the 10 biggest economies in the world, and proposed naming a presidential library after his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, who died on April 23.

The Russian president began his address with a moment of silence for Yeltsin, who was buried on April 25 following a state funeral.

The address is being called the likely last such speech of Putin's presidency, as the Russian president has said he will not seek a new term in next March's presidential election.

Putin postponed the address for a day so it did not coincide with the state funeral for Yeltsin.

RFE/RL Russia Report

RFE/RL Russia Report

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