Russian Duma passes measure on 'undesirable' foreign groups

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MOSCOW (AP) — The lower house of the Russian parliament has approved new legislation that would allow prosecutors to declare foreign and international organizations "undesirable" and shut them down if they are deemed to present a threat to state security or constitutional order.

The step appears to be part of a campaign to stifle civil society and dissent in Russia that intensified when President Vladimir Putin began his third term in 2012.

Russian suspicions of Western intentions have been further heightened because of tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.

The Duma's endorsement of the final reading of the legislation Tuesday, by a 440-3-1 vote, means the proposal will be sent to the upper house, which is almost certain to approve it. From there it will be sent to Putin for signing.

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