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Russia Rights Ombudsman Slams Law On 'Undesirable' Foreign NGOs

Russian rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova
Russian rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova

Russia's rights ombudsman has criticized a law approved by President Vladimir Putin that allows the authorities to ban international NGOs deemed "undesirable."

Human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova -- whose parliament-appointed role is to monitor rights abuses -- says she is "seriously concerned" by the law targeting any foreign groups accused of threatening "state security."

Putin last week signed off on the law, sparking condemnation from the European Union and United States over what human rights activists see as the latest step in Moscow's crackdown on civil society.

In a report released late on May 25, Pamfilova said the vaguely-worded legislation fails to give a "precise legal definition" for why an organization can be banned.

Pamfilova said the power given to the prosecutor-general to tag groups as "undesirable" without going to court contradicts the Russian constitution and she also slammed the lack of a right to appeal.

Under the law, authorities can ban foreign NGOs -- and jail Russians working with them for up to six years.

A lawmaker in Russia's parliament has already requested that Russia's prosecutor-general look into whether five organizations -- Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, Amnesty International, the Carnegie Endowment, and the Memorial rights group -- were undesirable.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax