Russian lawmakers have enacted legislation requiring nonprofit organizations that receive funding from outside the country and are suspected by the government of being involved in political activities to declare themselves "foreign agents," the New York Times reports.
Approved earlier this week, the bill also allows the government to block Web sites considered dangerous to children and reinstitutes criminal charges for slander, which Navi Pillay, United Nations high commissioner for human rights, told the Times could "stifle all criticism of government authorities and limit the ability of individuals to address issues of transparency, corruption, and abuse of power."
According to the Times, a Russian lawmaker at a recent meeting in Moscow held by the American Chamber of Commerce to assuage the fears of business groups told those in attendance that the law would be applied only to those organizations attempting to "change the political system."
"We understand that events have begun to take place at a faster rate, that the degree of tension in society is growing," said Aleksandr Petrov, a United Russia deputy and author of recent amendments to the bill. "We have one goal: to try, with the help of a number of laws, to create a certain stability, to provide for the integrity of the Russian Federation. Yes, there should be political activity, but it should not be allowed to rock the boat which is called Russia."