Russia declares US foundation ‘undesirable’ under new law

Jul 28, 2015, 10:06 AM
Igor Kalyapin, head of Russia’s Committee Against Torture gestures during a press conference ...
Igor Kalyapin, head of Russia's Committee Against Torture gestures during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. A prominent Russian human rights group says it is closing down its operations because of a repressive law but says it has come up with an elaborate scheme to continue its work. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian prosecutors on Tuesday moved to outlaw a prominent U.S. foundation, for the first time taking advantage of a new law designed to shut foreign groups deemed hostile to national interests amid a showdown with the West over Ukraine.

The Prosecutor General’s office issued a statement describing the National Endowment for Democracy as a threat to “the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order, its defense capability and security” and declaring its activities “undesirable.”

NED described the move as part of Russian government efforts “to intimidate and isolate Russian citizens.”

After receiving a formal approval by the Justice Ministry, the move would prevent the Congress-funded NED from distributing any grants and having offices in Russia.

The prosecutors’ action followed recent approval of a new law that empowered prosecutors to shut down foreign groups purportedly threatening Russia’s defense or constitutional order.

“The law on undesirable organizations is the latest in a series of highly restrictive laws that limit the freedom of Russian citizens,” NED said in a statement. “This law, as well as its predecessors, contravenes Russia’s own constitution as well as numerous international laws and treaties.”

An earlier law required non-governmental organizations that receive funding from abroad and are engaged in loosely-defined “political activities” to register as “foreign agents.” NGOs have protested that law as discriminatory, saying that it aims to erode their credibility by evoking associations with spies.

The Committee against Torture, a prominent rights group that has documented torture in Russia for 15 years and provided legal advice for victims, said it is closing down this week because of the law, but has come with a plan to continue its activities in a new form.

Its head, Igor Kalyapin, told reporters Tuesday they have set up a new head office that won’t accept foreign funding, thus being able to dodge the listing of “foreign agent.”

His associates have also founded six other NGOs, which will receive foreign funding, to carry out the actual work — but in a clandestine manner.

“All of these organizations will be not be publicizing their work because any publicity, an interview, any mention of such an organization in the media will be treated by the justice ministry and prosecutors as political activities,” thus exposing them to danger, Kalyapin said.

In June, the group’s office in Chechnya was attacked by masked men armed with crowbars who bashed their way into the group’s office, sending its staff fleeing.

Kalyapin said roughly half of their 44 million ruble ($730,000) budget came from foreign funding last year. Some of their donors are shutting down their operations in Russia, like the MacArthur Foundation, and some are considering leaving. The recent registration of the new six NGOs and their formal lack of background could make it difficult for them to attract some foreign funding this year, Kalyapin said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

A fisherman watches smoke rise after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a military unit in...
Associated Press

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters hit by drone strike

An explosive device carried by a makeshift drone blew up Sunday at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean Peninsula.
18 days ago
Medical syringes are seen with 'Monkeypox' sign displayed on a screen in the backgound in this illu...
Associated Press

Monkeypox declared a global emergency by UN health agency

The expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global emergency.
26 days ago
Chinese paramilitary policemen march in front of the Japanese embassy where the Japanese flag is fl...
Associated Press

Japan’s ex-leader Shinzo Abe assassinated during a speech

TOKYO (AP) — Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated Friday on a street in western Japan by a gunman who opened fire on him from behind as he delivered a campaign speech — an attack that stunned a nation with some of the strictest gun control laws anywhere. The 67-year-old Abe, who was Japan’s […]
1 month ago
Firefighters hose down a burning car after a strike hit a residential area, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk ...
Associated Press

Russia taking ‘operational pause’ in Ukraine, analysts say

Analysts say Russia may be taking an "operational pause" in eastern Ukraine to reassemble forces for a significant offensive.
1 month ago
Prime Minister Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street, after reading a statement in London, Thursda...
Associated Press

One scandal too many: British PM Boris Johnson resigns

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation Thursday after droves of top government officials quit over the latest scandal to engulf him, marking an end to three tumultuous years in which he tried to bluster his way through one ethical lapse after another. Months of defiance ended almost with a shrug as […]
1 month ago
Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Russia declares US foundation ‘undesirable’ under new law