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The Russian Duma in session (file photo) (AFP) 23 November 2005 -- Russia's lower house of parliament gave initial approval to a draft law that would curb the activities of foreign human rights bodies and charities.


In a first reading in the State Duma, deputies voted overwhelmingly in support of the bill which would make NGOs re-register, while increasing state supervision over them. It would also bar foreign NGOs from working in Russia directly and restrict Russian NGOs in accepting foreign funding.


NGO leaders had appealed to parliament to reject the bill, saying it would jeopardize Russia's democratic development.


Supporters of the bill in parliament said it aimed to defend Russia's national interests. Non-governmental organizations have played a role in the mass protests that toppled the old regimes in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.


The bill will have to go for further readings in parliament and require a presidential signature to become law.


(Reuters/TAR-TASS)

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