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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.

А Belarusian court has sentenced a man to death for two fatal robberies, the second death sentence this year to be handed down in the only country in Europe that still uses it.

Judges in the court in the western city of Hrodno found Ivan Kulish guilty on November 20 of killing three saleswomen during two robberies in 2013 and 2014.

Kulish, 28, refused to testify during the trial and didn't make any remarks after the verdict.

In March, a court in the southeastern city of Homel sentenced a man to death for the murder of a young woman.

According to rights groups, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in the ex-Soviet republic since the early 1990s.

The European Union on November 20 urged Belarus to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as "a first step towards its abolition."

"The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” the EU said in a statement.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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