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Russia bans US NGO Bard College

Bard College in Spring 2008 (Bard College/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Russian State Prosecutor’s Office has banned the U.S. nongovernmental organization Bard College after labelling it “undesirable.”

The office said on June 21 that the activity of educational NGO Bard College “represents a threat to the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.”

Bard was not immediately available to comment.

The “undesirable organization” law, adopted in May 2015, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources — mainly from Europe and the United States.

In April, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it would put a stop to the activity in Russia of U.S. funds and NGOs which it said interfered in the country’s domestic affairs, in retaliation to an array of U.S. government sanctions imposed on Moscow.

The prosecutor office’s decision was forwarded to the Justice Ministry in order to amend the list of undesirable foreign organizations, the statement said. Currently, the list includes 34 organizations, with Bard College to become 35th.

The move comes after the Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, earlier this month approved in the final reading a bill that widens the scope of the “undesirable” law.

Under the bill approved on June 16, individuals may face up to six years in prison if found guilty of organizing operations of “undesirable” international organizations on the Russian territory.