Russian prosecutors have paved the way for a ban on the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law, saying they have determined the group's activities are "undesirable."
A spokeswoman for the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office said on December 4 that the Justice Ministry had been ordered to register the foundation in line with controversial legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin in May.
The spokeswoman said it had funded groups Russia deemed to be "foreign agents" and had engaged in "political activities." She said the president of the foundation had been banned from entering Russia until 2025.
Human rights activists have criticized the legislation as a tool to stifle civil society.
The authorities have said the law is necessary to prevent foreign organizations from being used to undermine Russian security.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner rejected the designation, noting that the law foundation was co-founded by Putin and former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006 and had been fulfilling its mission to promote the rule of law.
"This designation is another deliberate step to further isolate the Russian people from the rest of the world," Toner said.
Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS