Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, has overwhelmingly backed a controversial bill that calls for nongovernmental organizations receiving international funding to be branded as "foreign agents."
The bill is part of new legislation introduced under newly installed President Vladimir Putin which critics say is aimed at restricting freedom of speech, information, and assembly.
The past two months have seen the passing of new laws imposing penalties on unauthorized protesters and the introduction of legislation limiting Internet freedoms and resurrecting slander as a criminal offense.
On July 1*, the Federation Council also passed a bill allowing the government to blacklist certain websites.
The legislation now goes to Putin for final approval.
On July 18, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay urged the Russian government "to avoid taking further steps backwards."
Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax