‘American influence isn't waning’ The main takeaways from the Russian Senate's hearings on Western political meddling
Top intelligence officials testified before the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, ahead of a hotly anticipated hearing with former FBI Director James Comey. But hours before American senators grilled these men about foreign meddling in the last presidential election, Russian senators held their own hearings on the same matter in Moscow, where the Federation Council (the upper house of the parliament) discussed efforts to prevent foreign interference in Russian domestic affairs. Speakers discussed meddling by nongovernmental organizations and debated what to do about journalists who carry out the West’s “ideological-political intervention.” Meduza collects some of the most memorable remarks at Wednesday’s inquiry in Moscow.
Draft recommendations for hearings at the Federation Council
We have observed the active implementation of foreign education programs targeting Russian journalists, as well as professional interactions and the exchange of experience between representatives of the American and European mass media and Russian journalists and the editors of opposition online publications.
Attorney General Yuri Chaika
Nonprofit organizations recognized as foreign agents were out of control and non-transparent, influencing the actions of Russian state agencies in the interests of their own foreign sponsors. In a number of cases, contrary to the norms of international law, much of this funding came directly from the government and the diplomatic missions of the United States, Great Britain, and structures within the European Union. [...] These organizations do not want to be called foreign agents, to provide the relevant financial records, or to disclose information about their activities. Simply put, they seek to return to a time when they could quietly take foreigners’ money to destroy the foundations of our state institutions, all while reporting to no one but their sponsors. But this time is gone forever.
Andrey Klimov, Federation Council member
Huge resources have already been invested, beginning in the 1990s. It’s enough just to look at the budget of any radio outlet. And you’ll easily find the same thing in the print media: thousands of people working tirelessly and around the clock on what should actually be called “ideological-political intervention.” These aren’t military methods, but it’s happening, nonetheless. And like in any war, defectors are being used actively here. This is also a separate issue, because formally they’re still like Russian citizens, but when they left, or rather when they fled from our country, it certainly wasn’t to strengthen us as a nation. And it seems to me that these citizens shouldn’t escape responsibility, either, including when it comes to activities tied to the subversion of our national sovereignty.
Sergey Naryshkin, head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service
The United States convinces its partners that it’s prudent to reduce the volume of their purchases of Russian oil and coal, to further restrict Russia’s access to modern technologies and equipment for hydrocarbon production, and to block Russian energy projects abroad. [...] The U.S. is making a desperate attempt to disrupt or at least to slow down the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. The U.S. and Poland have been particularly zealous here, really buckling down. And the Baltic states have been squealing pretty loudly, too.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov
Despite measures to strengthen control over the actions [of nonprofits and NGOs], infiltration and American influence are not waning, and we expect a further ramp-up, with this work rising in intensity and sophistication in the coming period, related mostly to [Russia’s] approaching elections and political campaigning.