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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kislyak Defends NGO Bill

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak on Friday deflected foreign criticism about pending legislation that would severely restrict nongovernmental organizations.

"This process is taking place in the framework of the Russian Constitution, it is part of the process of the formation of Russian civil society," Kislyak said after meeting with U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns. "I don't quite understand why such a fuss has been made around this issue."

Burns said the issue was not part of his official agenda and that such questions were left to "private diplomatic exchanges."

The bill would require local branches of foreign NGOs to reregister as Russian entities, subject to stricter financial and legal restrictions.

Former President Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday assailed State Duma deputies for tentatively approving the bill last month but refrained from criticizing President Vladimir Putin, who prompted the legislation.

"The president spoke of one thing, but they have begun conducting some kind of a global cleansing," Gorbachev said.

Putin said last summer that Russia would not tolerate NGOs using foreign money for political activity.

Putin, meanwhile, discussed the activities of NGOs at a meeting with Security Council members on Saturday, RIA-Novosti reported. The report did not elaborate on what was discussed.