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Russian elections monitor runs afoul of new 'foreign agent' law

July 6, 2013 at 5:14 PM

MOSCOW, July 6 (UPI) -- A group that monitors elections in Russia has reorganized itself as a non-profit foundation after being penalized for failing to register as a foreign agent.

The GOLOS Organization, founded in 2000, has been the only independent Russian organization monitoring elections. Grigory Melkonyants, one of its leaders, told RIA Novosti Thursday it will keep doing the same work.

The state Justice Department ordered GOLOS last week to shut down for six months because it failed to register as a "foreign agent" after receiving a cash award from the Helsinki Committee in Norway.

A new law supported by President Vladimir Putin requires all non-governmental organizations that receive funding from outside Russia, or are involved in "political activity" -- a term the law does not define precisely -- to register as foreign agents. GOLOS is the first group to face a court-ordered shutdown.

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