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Russian Duma Passes Controversial NGO Bill --> A Russian NGO conducting an AIDS awareness program (file photo) (official site) 23 December 2005 -- The Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, today passed a controversial bill restricting the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

It was the third and last reading of the bill in the Duma and passed by a vote of 357 to 20. It now goes to the upper house of parliament for approval, after which it must be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

NGOs, both local and foreign, have complained that the proposed law would make working in Russia extremely difficult if not impossible. Supporters of the bill say the changes would help in the fight against terrorism.

Putin ordered some changes to the bill after the Duma's first reading. Dropped from the text was a requirement that all NGOs working in Russia, including foreign NGOs, be registered as local entities.