Russian MPs move to shut ‘undesirable’ foreign NGOs

Russian MPs move to shut ‘undesirable’ foreign NGOs

HomeEuropeRussia Sat May 16, 2015 1:36AM

Russian lawmakers have given preliminary approval to legislation that could allow prosecutors to declare foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) “undesirable” on national security grounds.

On Friday, the Duma, parliament’s lower house, passed the bill in the crucial second reading with a vote of 442 to 3.

Russian parliamentary sources say the bill still requires a third reading before being approved by the Federation Council, the upper house, and President Vladimir Putin to become law.

The latest measure could target those organizations that pose “a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defense capability of the country or the security of the state.”

The organization would have to close its operations if declared undesirable in Russia. Heads of the organization could face a fine of up to 500,000 rubles (USD 10,000) or could be sent to prison if they defied the designation.

Alexander Tarnavsky, one of the authors of the bill and a member of the A Just Russia party, has defended the bill, saying that Moscow wanted foreign businesses to be covered by the law.

“Unfortunately some foreign organizations for various reasons are working against Russia,” The British state-run broadcaster BBC quoted Tarnavsky as saying.

“They may be ideological reasons, or in the interests of shareholders, or economic interests, it’s normal for them to say: ‘Come on, let’s push Russia down, so the value of Russian shares goes down, and then we’ll buy them,” he added.

The legislation comes amid frosty relations between Russia and the West, characterized by sanctions and counter-sanctions over the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia says Washington is responsible for the escalating tension in Ukraine through sending arms in support of the Ukrainian army. Western governments, however, have long accused Russia of destabilizing Ukraine by supporting pro-Russian forces in the eastern regions.

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