MOSCOW — The Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, has approved the third and final reading of a bill that would criminalize participation in the activities of foreign or international NGOs declared “undesirable” in Russia.
Under the bill approved on June 16, individuals may face up to six years in prison if found guilty of organizing operations of “undesirable” international organizations on Russian territory.
Russian citizens and organizations located in any country in the world will be barred from taking part in the activities of foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are labeled “undesirable” in Russia.
Individuals who take part in such organizations’ activities may be sentenced to up to four years in prison, while the punishment for raising funds for such groups will be up to five years in prison, the bill says.
The bill also says that individuals who voluntarily stop cooperating with “undesirable” organizations or assisted in shutting down such organizations’ operations will not face trial.
The bill now must be approved by the upper chamber of parliament, the Federation Council, before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
Last week, the State Duma approved the third and final reading of another bill that says Russian citizens and organizations located in any country will be barred from taking part in the activities of foreign NGOs that are labeled “undesirable” in Russia.
According to that bill, approved on June 9, “any foreign or international NGOs that provide services on transfer money to NGOs that have the status of an undesirable organization in Russia,” will be by extension defined as “undesirable” as well.
The bill also says that as of October 1, Russia’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, will monitor all financial transfers from certain countries, the list of which will be made public at a later date.
The “undesirable organization” law, adopted in May 2015, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources — mainly from Europe and the United States.
The European Union has called on Russian authorities to repeal the legislation.