The European Union has rejected a decision by Russian prosecutors to designate three German nongovernmental groups as "undesirable organizations," calling the move "the most recent example of the Russian authorities' disregard for a vibrant civil society."
"The decision by the Russian prosecutor-general ultimately harms the interests of Russian people and possibilities for open and free dialogue," EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell's spokesman said in a statement on May 27, a day after the designation of Forum Russischsprachiger Europaer e.V., Zentrum fur die Liberale Moderne GmbH, and Deutsch-Russischer Austausch e.V as "undesirable."
The "undesirable organization" law, adopted in May 2015, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources -- mainly from Europe and the United States.
In his statement, Borrell's spokesman Peter Stano said the EU "fully supports the key role played by independent NGOs in developing mutual understanding across borders and improving relations between countries."
"Nothing in the activities of these NGOs justifies this step," he added, calling on the Russian authorities to reverse their decision and to "contribute to the promotion of people-to-people contacts to the benefit of both Russia and the European Union."