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July 29, 2015

Russia Bars National Endowment for Democracy as 'Threat'

Russian law-enforcement officials, acting for the first time on new powers to ban foreign nonprofits, declared the National Endowment for Democracy "undesirable" on Tuesday and barred it from operating in the country, Bloomberg and The Guardian report. The office of Russia's prosecutor general said the Washington-based organization "poses a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation and the defensive capability and security of the government."

The Kremlin has accused the United States and Europe of using nonprofits to meddle in Russian affairs and foment the uprising that toppled Ukraine's pro-Russian government. Legislation signed in May by President Vladimir Putin authorizes the Justice Ministry to identify "undesirable" groups, which are prohibited from using Russian banks or operating branches in the country. The National Endowment for Democracy, which is partially funded by Congress, said in a statement that the law breaches Russia's constitution and is aimed at intimidating and isolating citizens.

The MacArthur Foundation decided last week to close its Moscow office, and the Mott Foundation announced Friday it will cease making grants to Russian organizations. Both had been placed, along with the National Endowment for Democracy, on a "patriotic stop list" by Russia's parliament, a precursor to the "undesirable" tag.