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August 22, 2013

Official: 22 Russian NGOs Recognized as 'Foreign Agents'

by VOA News

A top Russian official says 22 non-governmental organizations have been labeled "foreign agents," following an inspection of some of the groups that receive funding from abroad.

Prosecutor General's Office deputy chief Alexei Zhafyarov said authorities have inspected 1,000 of the more than 2,000 Russian NGOs that receive foreign funds. Of those checked by the agency, 22 were classified as foreign agents and at least two were shut down for having extremist ties.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin last July, requires NGOs that receive overseas financial support and engage in "political activity" to register with the Justice Ministry as "foreign agents."

Russian authorities began inspections on Russian NGOs in March, in a move criticized as being obtrusive and disproportionate by human-rights organizations.

Critics say the law is part of a Kremlin campaign aimed at silencing independent voices, following the election of Putin to a third term last year. He denies the claim.