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Archive for Saturday, December 24, 2005

Lower house approves bill restricting groups

December 24, 2005

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— Russia's lower house of parliament approved a controversial crackdown on the activities of nongovernmental organizations Friday, brushing aside widespread concern that the measure would stifle civil society in Russia and mark another regressive milestone in the country's post-Soviet evolution.

The legislation creates an agency to oversee Russia's 400,000 foreign and domestic NGOs and gives that agency authority to shut down any NGO perceived to be a threat to Russia's "sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, unity, cultural heritage or national interests."

The bill also gives the government the right to shut down individual NGO projects and imposes strict controls over the financing of the organizations.

Though the measure passed Friday is a slightly tempered version of a proposal introduced several weeks ago, leaders of Russia's NGO community said its passage would still severely hamper the work done by organizations engaged in everything from human-rights monitoring to promoting AIDS awareness.

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