The Russian General Prosecutor’s Office Thursday designated two more US–based organizations as “undesirable” under a draconian law adopted last year, as it continued to turn the screw on Russian civil society and cut off potential avenues of foreign funding.
The International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based non-profit group funded by the US Congress, and the New York-based Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) are just the latest in a list of organizations to be blacklisted in this way.
“This move is designed to send yet another unmistakable message: Russian NGOs and independent media should steer clear of foreign funders – and foreign funders should steer clear of Russia,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.
“This decision will not just hit Russian civil society, but also the communities and individuals they provide valuable services to.”
“The true aim of the law is to isolate Russian civil society, intimidate human rights defenders and suffocate the free press that are facing increasing difficulties in accessing sustainable funding.”
In a statement posted on its website, the Prosecutor General's office said that its investigation showed that the activities of IRI and MDIF had been posing “a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and national security,” without giving any further details. The work of both organizations is now illegal, any Russian assets they own have been frozen, and their foreign staff members have been denied entry to the country.
Since the adoption of the law in July 2015, five other American non-profit organizations were added into the list of “undesirable” organizations: The National Endowment for Democracy, OSI Assistance Foundation, Open Society Foundation, U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
A notorious “patriotic list” of potential “undesirable” organizations widely distributed in the upper house of Russia’s parliament last year contains a dozen non-profit groups in all.