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article imageRussian law targets 'undesirables'

By Nate Smith     May 15, 2015 in World
Russian lawmakers are poised to pass legislation empowering national defense officials to target foreign organizations considered out-of-favor with the government.
Representatives in Russia's lower (Duma) House have issued two of three necessary approvals to a law that would grant authority to government officials to make a list of foreign entities considered "undesirable" to Russia, and punish those organizations with consequences ranging from freezing assets to fines and jail time.
According to a law enacted a few years ago, foreign organizations operating in Russia already must register as "foreign agents." This legislation permits Russian authorities to punish the "undesirable" foreign agents under the premise of national security.
The bill yet requires a third reading in the lower house before it moves on to the upper chamber.
However, Russia's government is controlled by a party supportive of President Vladimir Putin and passage of the bill into law is largely considered a formality at this point.
That the law omits the phrase or any reference to "non-commercial" entities operating within Russia is a worrying sign for some that the law may eventually come to include Russian businesses as well.
It's also widely predicted that the law will spark debate about the international legality of such a law.
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