Claims that some members of Russian opposition work with foreign governments ‘not wrong or exaggerated,’ says top Moscow spy chief

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is entirely correct when it talks about links between opposition figures in the country and hostile foreign governments, according to Sergey Naryshkin, Moscow’s top intelligence official.

Speaking to journalists on Friday, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) head also agreed that figures who make “criminal” plans with enemy countries should not be considered opposition. The spy chief was likely referring to campaigner Alexey Navalny, who has recently been accused of taking money from and allying with states which consider Russia to be an enemy.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry is not wrong or exaggerating in its comments,” Naryshkin told the media on Friday. “I can only add to what has been said, that those who make criminal deals with the special services of countries that have a hostile policy towards Russia are not oppositionists. We should use a different term.”

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Naryshkin, who formerly served as the Kremlin chief of staff, was commenting after Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed that upcoming events in support of Navalny are influenced by the West.

Earlier in the week, Zakharova noted how key Navalny ally Leonid Volkov announced an end to demonstrations before changing his mind after a meeting with representatives from NATO countries.

“We should stop calling them the opposition. The opposition is something else,” she said.

Naryshkin also took aim at Russians who “deliberately insult war veterans,” saying that the “overwhelming majority” of the country does not accept it. He made the comments during Navalny’s trial, in which he is accused of defaming a World War II veteran by calling him a “traitor.”

“Of course, it is immoral and blasphemous to insult our respected veterans from the generation of victors. And those who deliberately use these insults put themselves on a par with accomplices of the Nazis,” he said.

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