[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 10:30 GMT
Russian MPs approve NGO controls
Russian police remove a human rights activist protesting against the bill outside the Duma. File photo
Human rights activists have held protests against the bill
The Russian lower house of parliament has passed a controversial bill to tighten controls on non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The bill - criticised by human rights groups and the West - passed its third and final reading in a 357-20 vote in the Duma, dominated by pro-Kremlin MPs.

The government says the bill is needed to ensure the security of the state.

It says NGOs are being used by Western governments and foreign spies to fan revolution in the former Soviet Union.

The bill is expected to be passed by the upper house - the Federation Council - before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

'Foreign spies'

It is one of the most controversial bills to be debated in the Russian parliament since President Putin came to power.

The Kremlin has been leading the call for tighter controls over the activities and finances of NGOs.

If adopted, the new legislation would provide just that, making Russian and Western NGOs more accountable to the state.

Human rights groups have accused the Kremlin of trying to strangle civil society and of legislating to extend its own power.

There has been widespread criticism of the draft law in Russia and abroad, including from the US Congress and the Council of Europe. President Putin amended the original bill, telling MPs to scrap the requirement for foreign groups to re-register their branches in Russia as local entities.

But prominent Russian NGOs have complained that even in its revised form, the bill would severely hamper their activities and represents a danger to democracy.

Russia accuses groups of spying
08 Dec 05 |  Europe
Head-to-Head: Russian NGOs bill
23 Nov 05 |  Europe
Russian MPs act to 'curb' NGOs
23 Nov 05 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific