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Russia's Putin Signs 'Undesirable' NGOs Bill


Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he believes Western secret services use nongovernmental organizations to "destabilize Russia."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law legislation on so-called "undesirable organizations" that critics say will deal a fresh blow to nongovernmental organizations.

The move, announced on May 23, came after both houses of Russia’s parliament approved the legislation earlier this week.

The new law gives prosecutors the right to list as "undesirable" foreign organizations "posing a threat to Russia's defense capabilities, security, public order, [or] public health."

Individuals who work for such organizations inside the country can be slapped with hefty fines or handed prison sentences of up to six years.

Under the law, the decision to deem a foreign organization undesirable must be coordinated with Russia’s Foreign Ministry on the basis of materials and documents obtained from the Interior Ministry and security agencies.

The Justice Ministry would be tasked with compiling the "blacklist."

Human rights watchdogs have denounced the legislation.

In a joint statement last week, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said it would “bolster an ongoing draconian crackdown which is squeezing the life out of civil society.”

The law on “undesirable organizations “puts those who don’t fall under the ‘foreign agents’ law on a knife edge,” veteran Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva has said.

The Kremlin's own human rights ombudsman has opposed the legislation, which became law after Putin repeated on March 26 his accusation that Western secret services use nongovernmental organizations to "destabilize Russia."

In 2012, Russia passed legislation in 2012 allowing authorities to define nongovernmental groups receiving foreign funding as "foreign agents."

With reporting by AP, TASS, and Interfax
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