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Putin signs law to ban ‘undesirable’ NGOs

Image courtesy of the KremlinPresident Vladimir Putin signed a law this month that allows prosecutors to declare foreign and international non-governmental organizations “undesirable” and arrest Russians cooperating with them.

The U.S. State Department said Saturday it is “deeply troubled” by Russia’s latest move against NGOS, VOA News said.

Russia passed a law in 2012 that requires NGOs to register as foreign agents with the Justice Ministry if they engage in “political activity” and are funded by foreign sources.

Earlier this year, prosecutors in Moscow warned the Russian branch of Transparency International to register as a foreign agent.

Russian and other NGOs deemed “undesirable” will be banned under the new law. Russians involved with banned groups can be fined up to about $10,000 or jailed up to six years.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, “We are concerned this new power will further restrict the work of civil society in Russia and is a further example of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on independent voices and intentional steps to isolate the Russian people from the world.”

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said the new law will “squeeze the life” from civil society Russia.

The groups warned that banks and other financial organizations will have to refuse to conduct any transactions with banned NGOs “and inform a money laundering watchdog about all such refusals.”

In March, President Putin accused Western spy services of plotting to use NGOs to “destabilize” Russia and undermine his rule.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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