EU calls Russia's NGO law 'worrying step'

EU calls Russia's NGO law 'worrying step'

The European Union says Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a "worrying step" by signing a regulation that outlaws what Moscow believes to be "undesirable" non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Press TV reported.

The EU foreign services said in a statement on Sunday that the rule was a "worrying step in a series of restrictions on civil society, independent media and political opposition."

"It will restrict freedom of speech and media as well as pluralism of opinion," the statement read.

Under the law signed by Putin, the Russian authorities would be able to ban overseas NGOs and go after their workforce.

If caught violating the law, the law states, the NGO officials risk up to six years in jail or would be banned from the country indefinitely.

The EU claimed that the law violates the Russian constitution, and criticized "the negative opinion" of the Russian Presidential Council of Human Rights in passing the legislation.

The criticism from the EU comes after Moscow adopted a law that barred such NGOs on Saturday.

Russia has in the past criticized the European Union and specifically its ally, the US, for using such organizations to interfere in its domestic affairs.

Moscow added in 2013 that Washington is getting around Russian restrictions on foreign funding by channeling money to non-governmental organizations.

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