Russian prosecutors Tuesday designated the National Endowment for Democracy, a Washington-based non-profit group funded by the U.S. Congress, as “undesirable” — making it the first foreign NGO to be banned in Russia under a controversial new law.

The decision, which was signed by Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Malinovsky, will be submitted to Russia’s Justice Ministry, which must enforce the ban on the NED activities inside Russia.

In a statement posted on its website, the Prosecutor General’s office alleged that the NED, using Russian businesses and non-commercial organizations under its control, participated in activities to delegitimize the outcome of elections, to influence government decisions and to discredit service in Russia’s armed forces.

“Taking into account the overall aim of the endowment’s work, prosecutors came to the conclusion that it presents a threat to the constitutional order of Russia, its defense capabilities and state security,” the statement read.

Founded in 1983, the NED makes more than 1,000 grants a year to support the projects of NGOS working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.

It has funded a number of Russian human rights and civil society groups, including the Moscow Helsinki Group, Russia’s oldest human rights group active today.

In May, President Vladimir Putin signed a law giving prosecutors the right to declare as “undesirable” foreign and international non-governmental organizations whose activities are deemed a threat to Russia’s constitutional system, “defense capability or the security of the state.”

Earlier this month, the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, formally asked Russia’s foreign and justice ministries and Prosecutor General’s Office to look into the activities of 12 NGOs,  including the NED, after which another American group on the list, the MacArthur Foundation, announced it was closing its Moscow office.


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