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Duma Speaker Defends Russian Laws Before PACE

Russian State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin
STRASBOURG -- The speaker of Russia's State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin, defended a raft of controversial laws in a speech before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Naryshkin said on October 1 that a much-criticized law branding foreign-financed NGOs as "foreign agents" creates greater transparency but acknowledged that certain changes to the law might be introduced.

He said another recent law banning protests for a period of two months around the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi is only meant to "dampen the zeal of troublemakers."

And he said a law banning the propaganda of "nontraditional sexual relations" is aimed at protecting minors and does not restrict the rights of the LGBT community in Russia.

On foreign policy, Naryshkin noted that Russia's sheltering of U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is correct as his treatment in the United States could be "unfair and not according to due law."

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He also denied Moscow is pressuring its neighbors to join its Customs Union instead of pursuing closer ties to the EU.
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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.