‘Relax a bit behind bars’ Here’s a summary of what Vladimir Putin said about Russia’s crackdown on protesters and foreign agents
An active civil society is more than the so-called non-systemic opposition, which regularly breaks our laws; it’s also the millions of volunteers working across the country. Sometimes I look around at these people with tears in my eyes because they’re working so hard. But God bless the non-systemic opposition, too. I believe they’re deeply needed and that they have a real effect on life, especially at the municipal level in major cities. But there’s the law and everyone must observe it. Or do we want people going around, setting fire to cars in the street? If you want to express your point of view, then get a permit for a public demonstration and go to town. In some countries, unpermitted rallies can cost you five or even 10 years. Get a permit. And if you don’t and you protest anyway, then you’re in for a buzzcut when they lock you up. Take a load off and relax a bit behind bars. And we aren’t the ones who invented foreign-agent status — that was the Americans. Comparing it to the yellow badges the Nazis forced on the Jews is unfair. The only goal of the law against foreign agents is to protect Russia from outside political interference.
You can follow the whole “20 Questions with Vladimir Putin” at the state news agency TASS at its website here.