Russia's only independent pollster called to register as foreign agent

By bne IntelliNews May 7, 2013

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Levada Center, Russia's only independent national pollster, must register as a foreign agent or face stiff fines, prosecutors said after determining that it is a recipient of foreign funding.

Levada Center received $126,000 from abroad between late December and March, in particular from George Soros' US-based Open Society Institute. Other funding came from Italy, Germany, Poland and South Korea, pro-government newspaper Izvestia reported on May 7, citing an unidentified source in the Prosecutor General's Office.

Among the recent Levada surveys that might have irked the government was one that indicated a third of Russians support the release of suspects arrested for rioting at the anti-government rally on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in May 2012. A similar number were reported to be in favour of the release of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose Yukos oil company was bankrupted by the Kremlin and its assets hived off into state-controlled energy companies.

Levada also found that more than half of Russians agree that the ruling United Russia party is a "party of crooks and thieves" and believe that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's cabinet is "ineffective."

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