US criticizes new Russian regulations on groups

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By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is sharply criticizing a new Russian law requiring non-governmental groups that receive funding from abroad and engage in political activity to register as foreign agents.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the law creates burdensome requirements on human rights, anti-corruption and pro-democracy advocates.

She called it "disturbing" and said the U.S. was concerned about a larger backtracking from democracy in Russia. She contrasted Russia's restrictions with how the U.S. allows non-governmental organizations to receive foreign funding.

Some Russian groups have vowed to circumvent the law. Critics say Moscow's vague definition of political activity allows the law to be applied against a wide range of initiatives.

President Vladimir Putin signed it over the weekend. He has accused the U.S. of instigating and funding recent protests against him.

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