Russia labels leading rights group 'foreign agent'

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MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Justice Ministry has branded a leading rights group named after Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov a "foreign agent," a stigma that could lead to its closure.

The ministry said in a statement released Friday that the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Community Center had been included into the list of "foreign agents."

Following major protests against his rule in 2011 and 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated a law that requires all NGOs receiving foreign funding and found to engage in vaguely defined "political activity" to register as "foreign agents." Those who fail to comply face fines and potential closure.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a Soviet-era dissident and a leading rights campaigner, said in remarks carried by the Interfax news agency the ministry's move could force the Sakharov center to close.

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