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Russia Tags Kovalyov's NGO As 'Foreign Agent'

Russia's Justice Ministry has placed the nongovernmental Human Rights Institute on its official register of organizations "operating as foreign agents."

The moved was announced on the ministry's website on November 20.

The institute is headed by former State Duma Deputy Sergei Kovalyov, a respected Soviet-era dissident and political prisoner who was the protégé of Soviet human rights activist Andrei Sakharov. Its director is longtime rights activist Valentin Gefter.

According to the institute's website, the organization "carried out investigative and educational work in the area of human rights" and "works closely with federal and regional ombudsmen and the presidential commission on civil society and human rights."

The previous day, the Justice Ministry included the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a media-protection NGO, on the "foreign agents" list.

Dunja Mijatovic, the media-freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called that move "a serious obstruction to the important work media NGOs carry out" in Russia.

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