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Russia bans three organizations linked to Kremlin critic

By Andrew V. Pestano
Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Open Russia nongovernmental organization has been blacklisted by Russia's prosecutor general, meaning it is banned from operating in Russia. File Photo by Jakub Kaminski/EPA
Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Open Russia nongovernmental organization has been blacklisted by Russia's prosecutor general, meaning it is banned from operating in Russia. File Photo by Jakub Kaminski/EPA

April 27 (UPI) -- Russia's prosecutor general has blacklisted three nongovernmental organizations, including Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's Open Russia, ahead of anti-government protests.

Russia's Prosecutor General's Office labeled British-based Open Russia, the British-based Open Russia Civic Movement, and the U.S.-based Institute of Modern Russia as "undesirable." The move makes it illegal for the organizations to operate in Russia.

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"Their activities are aimed at inspiring protests and destabilizing the internal political situation, which threatens the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the security of the state," the prosecutor general said in a statement.

Open Russia Civic Movement is affiliated with Khodorkovsky's Open Russia and the Institute of Modern Russia is chaired by Khodorkovsky's son Pavel. Open Russia had been planning an anti-government street protest for Saturday.

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"Upon the results of scrutiny of the materials obtained by the Prosecutor General's Office, we passed a decision on April 26 to recognize the undesirable character of activity of the following foreign nongovernmental organizations on the territory of Russia," Alexander Kurennoi, a spokesman for the prosecutor general, told Russia's state-run Tass news agency prior to naming the organizations.

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Kurennoi said Russia blacklisted the groups because the organizations were taking actions to discredit elections in Russia and to declare them illegitimate. The prosecutor general said it has sent its decision to the Russian Justice Ministry for further consideration.

Amnesty International condemned the prosecutor general's decision as the "latest in a longstanding crackdown on civil society."

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"These aren't the first organizations banned in Russia as 'undesirable', but it's the first time the authorities ban a civil society group that was founded by Russians and operates only in Russia. Since its creation, Open Russia has done a lot to support victims of human rights violations in Russia and denounce Russia's deplorable human rights record, and now itself has fallen victim to the system," Amnesty International Russia Director Sergei Nikitin said in a statement.

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