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Russian Activists Criticize Kremlin Over NGO Law

Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 21, 2012.
Russian activists are criticizing the Kremlin for a new law that labels non-governmental organizations (NGO's) receiving financial support from abroad as "foreign agents."

The Kremlin said Saturday that President Vladimir Putin had signed the controversial measure, which cleared parliament earlier this month.

The law applies to NGO's engaging in political activities. Opponents say it is a Kremlin attempt to silence critics.

Lev Ponomarev, the head of one of Russia's oldest NGO's the For Human Rights group, says his organization will not obey the new regulation.

"The adopted law is not legal. That is why of course, we, who call on the Russian citizens to defend their rights, we need to defend our rights as well, naturally using all legal means," he explained. "That is why we will do it. We will not obey this law, we announce a campaign of civil disobedience and we will fight against this law with all legal means.''

Moscow Helsinki Group leader Lyudmila Alexeyeva also voiced displeasure with the measure.

She says her group will turn down foreign funding in an attempt to work around the law.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department expressed "deep concern" about the provision, which prompted a Russian rebuke for what the government called foreign interference.

The new measure has taken effect a month after President Putin signed a bill imposing huge fines for participating in unauthorized demonstrations