Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman of Pres. Putin said media outlets in the United States and United Kingdom were attacking Russia and Putin with “loosely made up lies.” However, he said Russia is prepared to work with Western countries despite the “pinching and nibbling.”
Latest Western media attack against Pres. Putin
Peskov said Russia’s Presidential Press Office recently received a request for comment from a newspaper based in London and a media outlet in the United States regarding the alleged business connection of Putin—the latest example of Western media attacks.
According to Peskov, the media outlets submitted a “respectful,” but he noted that wording of the letters was almost similar, which raised his suspicion that it was a coordinated campaign. The media outlets were asking for comment about the alleged business ties between Putin and Gennadiy Timchenco, the co-owner Gunvor, a major oil trading company.
Peskov said that the media outlets emphasized that they need direct answers, and they would not accept general replies. Their letter also stated that if answers of the Presidential Press Office were too general, the media outlets would consider it as a refusal to comment.
“I was disturbed by their ultimatum-like tone and by their style that was more appropriate for an interrogation,” said Peskov.
Concerning the alleged business relationship of Pres. Putin with Timchenco and Gunvor, Peskov emphasized that the information about it were false, and Russia cannot treat it seriously.
He said, “All this information completely does not correspond to reality. This slander has been made up very loosely. We cannot treat it seriously.”
Peskov also noted that the media outlet’s request for comment regarding the allegations against Pres. Putin came when Russia and the West were trying to restore a dialogue despite some contradictions. He pointed out that Russia is willing to maintain a dialogue with its foreign counterparts despite the attacks.
Accusing Russia becomes a new sport
Last month, Peskov said accusing Russia of everything became a new “sport.” He made the comment after CNN reported that Russian hackers were responsible in hacking the computer system of the White House.
At the time Peskov said, “In regard to CNN’s sources, I don’t know who their sources are, but what’s most important is that they aren’t looking for any submarines in the Potomac River like what has been seen in other countries, [referring to the Swedish hunt for an alleged Russian submarine In October 2014]. We know that blaming everything on Russia has already turned into some sort of sport.”
Russia cracks down foreign businesses and groups
A separate report from USA Today indicated that Russia is tightening control over foreign organizations and businesses supporting human rights. The action of the Russian government demonstrates the existence of an escalating tension with the West regarding the Ukraine crisis.
The Parliament of Russia passed a bill giving law enforcers a power to prevent undesirable foreign organizations from working in the country. The bill also stipulated that it is a crime for Russian to work for these organizations. The bill targets non-profit organization, but the wording allows authorities to impose a ban on foreign businesses. The bill still needs Pres. Putin’s signature.
The bill authorizes the Prosecutor General’s Office to declare “international non-government organizations that pose a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities or the security of its government” as “undesirable” and prohibit such entities to operate in Russia.
Tatyana Lokshina, director of the Russia program at Human Rights Watch, commented, “The bill has the potential to severely damage our work in Russia. Nevertheless, I am genuinely convinced that it’s not about us. The intended targets of this new legislation … are actually Russian activists and Russian groups. The bill is aimed at cutting them off from their international partners.”
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) asked Pres. Putin to veto the bill citing the reason that its wording was “broad and imprecise” and imposes “serious restrictions on a wide array of important democratic rights, including freedom of expressions .”