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Russia NGO vote brings fear of protest clampdown

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Russia NGO vote brings fear of protest clampdown

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Closer monitoring of non-governmental organisations working in Russia is a step closer after the lower house of Russia’s parliament gave preliminary approval to a bill critics claim will stifle protests against the president.

Put forward by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party, the law would oblige any NGOs who receive financing from abroad to register as ‘foreign agents’.

Three hundred and twenty-three MPs voted in favour, and the proposal does have wide political backing, including from right-wing LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirnovsky.

“Now the NGOs have to give reports. It’s not always clear how the money is spent. Nobody is banning them from receiving money. Now they’ll have to report how the money is spent,” he said.

The law will have to go through two more readings in the Duma and one in the upper house before it is passed.

However, some fear that it will be used to stifle NGOs – especially ones that deal with human rights and political transparency.