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Russian Bill Would Allow Closure of 'Undesirable' Organizations

FILE - Russian lawmakers attend a session of the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly, in Moscow.

The Russian parliament has given preliminary approval to legislation that would allow prosecutors to declare foreign and international organizations "undesirable'' in Russia and shut them down.

The step appears to be part of a campaign to stifle civil society and dissent in Russia that intensified when President Vladimir Putin began his third term in 2012.

New laws already have led to increased pressure on nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that receive foreign funding.

The latest measure would allow Russian prosecutors to declare an organization undesirable if it presented "a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order'' of Russia, or a threat to its defense capabilities or the nation's security.

Parliament's lower house passed the bill Friday in the crucial second reading, 442 to 3.

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