U.S. says Russia’s law on NGOs intimidates rights activists
The United States believes that Russia's new law on NGOs intimidates human and civil rights activists and undermines democratic developments in the country, Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State, said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Saturday a law forcing non-government organizations engaged in political activity with foreign financing to be branded as "foreign agents.", RIA Novosti reported.
The law will come in force starting in November.
"This law applies burdensome requirements on human rights advocates, anticorruption and democracy groups, and it misrepresents them as foreign agents simply because they accept foreign funds," Nuland told a daily press briefing adding that the United States is "concerned about the democratic trend in Russia."
Under the new legislation, NGOs would have to publish a biannual report on their activities and carry out an annual financial audit. Failure to comply with the law could result in four-year jail sentences and/or fines of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,200).
"So our concern is that this law is designed to intimidate those civil society activists and organizations that Russia needs most to promote the development of a modern, democratic society that's free from corruption, that's based on rule of law, and in which human rights are respected," Nuland said.
The new law on NGOs came amidst criticism from Russian human rights organizations which say the series of Kremlin-backed laws are attempts to suppress opposition in the country.