Now that the Putin administration has largely neutralized opposition in the parliament and the broadcast news media, the next logical step is to cripple – or at least discredit – Russia’s most independent-minded human rights organizations. That would seem to be the reasoning behind a new propaganda offensive launched by Valery Kraev, a Ministry of Justice official, that has involved accusing prominent human rights advocates such as Lev Ponomarev of being financed by organized crime figures.
According to a May 7 article in Gazeta.ru, Ponomarev categorically denied the accusations and threatened to file a libel suit. “My budget is transparent,” said the physicist-turned-activist. “The movement For Human Rights is financed by international donors. This year they are the MacArthur Foundation in America and also the National Endowment for Democracy. The TACIS Foundation in Europe gives us technical assistance.”