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Duma To Vote On Controversial NGO Bill

Russian lawmakers are scheduled to vote at any time on a controversial bill branding foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations "foreign agents."

Protesters held a rally outside the State Duma to protest the bill introduced by deputies from United Russia, the pro-Kremlin ruling party.

Under the draft law, all Russian nongovernmental organizations receiving funding from abroad and deemed to be involved in politics would have to re-register and submit to more rigorous checks by the authorities.

Violations would be punishable by hefty fines or jail time.

Although a similar law exists in the United States, critics say such legislation in Russia could be used to justify further crackdowns on civil society as President Vladimir Putin faces an unprecedented protest movement against his return to the Kremlin and what detractors label "Putinism."

Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS