Russia closer to controlling NGOs

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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.