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Russia Deems Two U.S.-Based NGOs 'Undesirable'


The Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has deemed two U.S.-based NGOs as being "undesirable" in Russia and of threatening the country's national security.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement on August 18 that it will recognize the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) as "undesirable" and as posing "a threat to the foundations of the Russian constitutional system and the state's security."

It added that its decisions had been sent to the Justice Ministry and that the IRI and MDIF will be placed on a list of "undesirable" organizations.

The IRI, which is chaired by U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona), said in response that "this move really says more about [Russian President] Vladimir Putin than it does about IRI" and is "further proof that he fears democracy and allowing his people to have an opportunity to shape their own future."

The IRI was founded in 1983 and says it is committed to "advancing freedom and democracy worldwide," operating in dozens of countries.

IRI closed its Russia office in 2012 and runs its Russia program through various programs in Europe.

The MDIF has provided financial and technical help to independent news and information businesses in 39 countries around the world since 1996.

In March, Russia's Justice Ministry added another U.S. organization -- the National Democratic Institute -- to the list of "undesirable" organizations.

Also in March, the NTV television channel broadcast a report alleging that Russian independent media that had worked with the MDIF were "indebted" to the U.S. State Department.

The fund has no relationship with the U.S. government.

The three organizations recently listed by Russia as undesirable have been supporting the development of democratic institutions in Russia and other former Soviet republics for many years.

Critics say the Russian law on foreign NGOs, adopted in May 2015, stifles civil society.

With reporting by Interfax

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