Russia's Duma OKs NGO 'foreign agent' bill

July 13, 2012 at 10:26 AM

MOSCOW, July 13 (UPI) -- Non-government organizations engaged in political activity with foreign funding would be classified as foreign agents under a bill passed by Russia's lawmakers.

The bill's passage Friday on a 374-3 vote in the Duma (lower chamber) came amid criticism from Russian human rights groups that said it is a government attempt to suppress the opposition, RIA Novosti reported.

Under the legislation, NGOs would have to publish a report on their activities and conduct an annual financial audit. Penalties for not complying include a four-year jail term and-or up to $9,200 in fines.

Organizations affected by the legislation would be added to foreign-agent lists and required to include a "foreign agent" label on all materials they publish. Also, the NGO must tell the Justice Ministry about foreign funding greater than $7,000 it may receive.

Lawmakers also passed a bill that would criminalize defamation, RIA Novosti said.

Opposition activists and journalists said that measure is another attempt to silence government critics.

The bill includes fines of up to $170,000 for misinformation damaging a person's reputation.

Both bills must be approved by the Federation Council, Russia's legislative upper chamber, and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy drops bid for speaker
WikiLeaks offering $50K for video of Afghan hospital bombing
Murdoch sorry for implying Obama's not a 'real black president'
Reid sues exercise companies over eye injury
Lumber Liquidators to pay $10M in DOJ settlement