The Russian government, upset at criticism from such foreign-funded organizations as the U.S. think tank Freedom House, is turning the tables. Moscow approved the creation of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, which will "study democracy and human rights in Europe and the United States." The Institute, whose funding comes from "private businesses," has offices in New York and Paris. "No country can monopolize the definition of standards of democracy and human rights," said Institute founder Anatoly Kucherena. In related news, the National Information Center will open in Moscow next month. "The center's aims include improving Russia's image abroad, promoting national projects and providing [Russian and foreign] journalists with first-hand contacts in the presidential administration," reports the Moscow Times. The Center will also be funded by business leaders, while Vasily Shestakov, "a friend and judo partner of President Vladimir Putin," has been invited to head its supervisory board.
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