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Russia NGO bill gets final approval in lower house

[JURIST] The lower chamber of Russia's parliament, the Russian State Duma [official website in Russian], approved a bill Tuesday mandating stricter controls on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that could dissolve many of the present NGOs that openly criticize the government. The measure passed by a margin of 357-20 in the third of three required readings [JURIST report] and is expected to be approved by the upper house of parliament early next week. The bill calls for stringent and continual accounting procedures for NGOs to follow and creates a new agency [JURIST report] that will oversee the registration of NGOs and decide whether certain NGOs should be dissolved, rather than allowing courts to make those determinations. Russian and foreign NGOs opposed the bill, including the country's leading human rights group, Memorial [advocacy website, English version], which said the new law will mean the "destruction of civil society in Russia." Lawmakers claim that the measure is necessary to stem terrorism and extremism, but critics say it is in response to NGOs which criticize the Kremlin, promote democracy, and fight for human rights. Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] ordered revisions to the bill [JURIST report] after the protests, but rights groups said they did not go far enough. MosNews has more.

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