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May 18, 2015

Russian Bill Targets 'Undesirable' Foreign Nonprofits

Russian lawmakers advanced legislation Friday that would grant prosecutors the power to declare foreign and international nonprofit groups "undesirable" and close them down, the Associated Press reports.

The lower house of parliament voted 442-3 to give preliminary approval to the bill, which comes amid broader efforts to clamp down on civil society since President Vladimir Putin began his third term in 2012.

Under the proposal, prosecutors could designate an organization as undesirable if it is deemed to 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." Russian nonprofits, particularly those that get funding from abroad, have come under increasing Kremlin pressure, including law-enforcement raids and laws requiring them to register as "foreign agents." Activists fear the new measure would extend the crackdown to global groups like Greenpeace and Amnesty International.