NGOs in Russia labeled as spies, advocate says

BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Members of non-governmental organizations in Russia are at risk of being classified as spies under the terms of national law, an EU rights commission heard.

Members of the Civil Liberties Committee in the European Parliament heard testimony Thursday about the human rights situation in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.


Barbara Lochbihler, a German member of parliament, said restrictive laws targeting NGOs make it difficult to assess the rights landscape in Russia.

Putin enacted legislation last year requiring NGOs to register as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from abroad.

Kirill Koroteev, a lawyer for Russian civil rights group Memorial, said that means human rights workers may be labelled as "a spy" according to the terms of the legislation.

Putin defended the measure as a means to ensure transparency. He's been accused by human rights groups of using political tools to silence his critics.

"We are very concerned about with the restrictive laws, including the foreign agents law and the controls performed abruptly by Russian officials on the office of several domestic and foreign NGOs and institutions," Lochbihler said during her testimony Thursday.

Latest Headlines