Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially enacted a law banning undesirable non-governmental organisations, NGOs, the Kremlin said. The law, which was enacted yesterday, allows authorities to bar foreign civil society groups seen as threatening Russia’s defence capabilities or constitutional foundations and go after local activists working with them, the Kremlin statement said.
Supporters presented the law as a preventative measure, necessary after the wave of Western sanctions put in place over the Ukraine conflict. Under the law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barredfrom the country. It also allows them to block the bank accounts of the organisations until the NGOs account for their actions to the Russian authorities. However, critics have said that the vague wording of the law –which gives Russia’s general prosecutor the right to impose the undesirable tag without going to court, could allow officials to target foreign businesses working in Russia. Amnesty International called it unprecedented repression against non-governmental organisations.