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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 December 2005, 12:49 GMT
Russia closer to controlling NGOs
Russian Duma
The bill got overwhelming support in the Duma
The upper house of the Russian parliament has approved a controversial bill to tighten state control over non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Federation Council's approval came after the bill was passed by the lower house, the Duma, last week.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign it into law.

Human rights groups and western politicians have criticised the bill, which would give the state powers to oversee NGO funding and activities.

Spying claims

The bill sets out stricter registration procedures for foreign and domestic NGOs and gives the state the power to close them down.

The Russian authorities say the legislation is needed to prevent foreign governments and organisations from using NGOs to undermine Russia's security.

The FSB security service - the main successor to the Soviet KGB - says NGOs are being used by Western governments and foreign spies to foment revolution in the former Soviet Union.

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

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.

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