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Russia's Duma To Consider Bill Restricting NGOs

(AFP) 23 November 2005 -- Russia's lower house of parliament is slated today to consider controversial draft amendments that would place new restrictions on nongovernmental organizations.

The amendments to the law on public associations would, among other things, require NGOs to register within a state commission within a year and forbid them from accepting foreign funding for political activities.

Critics say the amendments would effectively prevent international nonprofit organizations from working in Russia.

Russian human rights activists said passage of the legislation would jeopardize Russia's democratic development.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, which itself would fall under the new restrictions, said the legislation would "eviscerate" civic society in Russia.

The draft law was submitted to the Duma earlier this month by a group of deputies representing all factions in parliament.