Russia bans US-funded rights group Freedom House

Moscow — Russia on Tuesday said it had declared U.S.-funded rights group Freedom House an “undesirable organization”, effectively banning anyone from working for or having links with the group.

Authorities in Russia have declared dozens of media outlets, think tanks and non-profit organizations “undesirable” since 2015, a label rights groups say is designed to deter dissent.

In a statement, Russia’s Prosecutor General said Freedom House had called for “comprehensive assistance to Ukraine to defeat Russia” and had “discredited” the Russian army.

“The organization provides information, financial, legal and other support to Russian opposition structures, pro-Western and LGBT activists, communities defending their interests, and persons convicted of terrorist crimes,” it said.

Freedom House says it supports and provides funding to local democracy activists and civil liberty groups in more than 30 countries, receiving much of its financing from the U.S. State Department.

It is best known for its “Freedom in the World” index that measures each country’s civil liberties and labels them “Free” or “Not Free”. Russia is labelled “Not Free”.

Since launching its offensive in Ukraine, Moscow has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent that rights groups have likened to Soviet-era mass repression.

Among other organizations labelled as “undesirable” in Russia are the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Transparency International and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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