Accessibility links

Breaking News


Russia's Justice Ministry said it was classifying the Free Russia Foundation as an "undesirable” organization -- a move that could lead to the Washington-based organization being shut down within Russia.

The ministry said on June 28 that it was putting the foundation on the official registry of "undesirable" organizations, under a 2015 law that established the classification.

A ministry official, Andrei Chumakov, confirmed the inclusion to the Interfax news agency, but gave no further explanation.

Signed in 2015 by President Vladimir Putin, the law gives prosecutors the ability shut "undesirable organizations" down if they are deemed to be a threat to Russia’s national interests.

That measure followed a related law signed three years earlier requiring nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from foreign sources and engage in political activity within Russia to declare themselves as "foreign agents."

Both measures were loudly criticized by Western governments, and by many of the Russian nongovernmental groups that rely wholly or in part on financing from foreign public and private sources.

It wasn't immediately clear what effect the classification would have on the Free Russia Foundation’s operations in Russia.

In a statement, the organization defended its efforts, and said it would not be distracted by the designation.

"We are 'desirable' among those who value democracy and human rights and, for that, we know we are in good company with 15 other honorable organizations. Our focus is on the best interests of the Russian people. We are not distracted by designations from those who want Russia to remain an authoritarian country," the group said.

The organization was founded by a group of Russia expatriates and dissidents, some of whom had been forced to flee Russia.

Its chairman is David Kramer, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state.

The group recently published a report detailing how Russia has spent years exploiting Western institutions and legal systems in an effort to target critics, undermine sanctions, and undo court decisions.

UFA, Russia -- A prominent activist in Russia's Urals region of Bashkortostan has been banned from attending the 4th Congress of the World's Bashkirs.

Fail Alsynov, the leader of the Bashqort organization, which promotes Bashkir language and culture as well as equal rights for ethnic Bashkirs, was not allowed to attend the opening session of the congress that kicked off in the regional capital, Ufa, on June 28.

Police forced Alsynov out of the congress hall, saying that the World's Congress of Bashkirs had excluded him from the participants' list this year.

The move shocked many in Bashkortostan, as Alsynov has been an active participant in previous gatherings.

Alsynov started facing problems after he and his organization staged several events in the last two years challenging Moscow's move to abolish mandatory indigenous-language classes in the regions with large populations of indigenous ethnic groups.

The move sparked an outcry in Bashkortostan and other regions where local languages have official status alongside Russian.

About one-third of Bashkortostan’s 4 million residents are Bashkir, while 39 percent are ethnic Russians and 25 percent are Tatars.

Alsynov has said he plans to run in elections for regional leader in September.

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More