Head of Russia’s oldest human rights organization said Monday that a television report aired Sunday implicating her group of being funded by foreign elements aims to undercut any possible criticism of the upcoming presidential elections by Russian public groups.
“They picked these tired allegations because people like us, rights activists, are training people to work as monitors during the imminent presidential elections,” Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow-Helsinki Group, told RIA Novosti. “This is the only reason why this story resurfaced.”
The Russian presidential elections will take place on March 4 and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is still the leading contender, despite a sharp drop in public popularity.
A state-run TV channel Rossia One aired a report on Sunday, saying that the British intelligence officials paid 23,000 British pounds to the Moscow-Helsinki Group in 2004.
A similar program hosted by Mamontov was televised on Rossia One back in 2006, when Moscow was engaged in a diplomatic row with London over the radioactive poisoning of former security official Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital.
Sunday's report used the exact same details as the report from six years ago, showing billing documents alleging that the embassy of the United Kingdon in Moscow issued a grant to the rights group in 2004. The document was signed by a British diplomat Marc Doe who two years later was accused by the Russian officials of spying for the U.K. in Russia.
Alexeyeva has never denied receiving this grant and dismissed the idea that her organization had any specific ties to the alleged spy who served as the first secretary to the British ambassador in Moscow at that time and that he would have routinely signed any financial documents.