`Russian law on NGOs intimidates rights activists`
Washington: The US believes Russia`s new law on NGOs intimidates human and civil rights activists and undermines democratic developments in the country, according to the US Department of State.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed Saturday a law forcing non-government organisations engaged in political activity with foreign financing to be branded as "foreign agents". The law will come into force starting in November.
"This law applies burdensome requirements on human rights advocates, anti corruption and democracy groups, and it misrepresents them as foreign agents simply because they accept foreign funds," spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a press briefing.
She added that the US 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 organisations 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 organisations which say the series of Kremlin-backed laws are attempts to suppress opposition in the country.
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