Putin attacks "meddling" foreigners

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Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that foreign companies and investors are compromising his country's sovereignty.

Delivering his final address as head of state to Russia's parliament, the Duma, the popular leader said that some were using the democratic-capitalist model to deliberately "meddle in our domestic affairs".

His comments continue a trend within his recent public rhetoric highlighting Russia's vulnerability to international interference.

Observers have said that it is this heightened sense of risk which Mr Putin is using to justify an increased assertiveness in foreign policy.

He announced in his speech that Russia was freezing its compliance with the 1990 conventional forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, citing the increased Nato presence in Russia's traditional sphere of interest as a justification for his decision.

Mr Putin described the eastward expansion of Nato's operational remit as a "serious factor provoking reduction of mutual trust" at a security conference in Germany in February.

In today's address he explained that the US deployment of part of its anti-missile defence system in eastern European nations Poland and the Czech Republic also contributed to growing Russian insecurity.

Both the US state department and Nato have expressed their concern at Mr Putin's plans to withdraw from the treaty.

His address comes one day after the funeral of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, the man who restored democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Mr Yeltsin's record contrasts with that of Mr Putin, who is widely held to have eroded accountability and democracy in Russia.

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