Russia brands opposition leader Navalny anti-corruption group a 'foreign agent'

The Russian government formally declared an organization run by opposition leader Alexei Navalny as a "foreign agent" on Wednesday, the Justice Ministry announced on its website.

The listing is seen as the latest attempt to squeeze the opposition. Navalny is a well-known challenger to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has been jailed repeatedly for organizing protests.

Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which regularly publishes investigations into corruption by state officials, will now be subject to increased oversight by Russian authorities and submit regular reports on who its managers are and how it spends its money. They must also declare their sources of funding and their objectives.

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Under a controversial 2012 law, Russian officials can label civil society groups "foreign agents" if they say have received funding from abroad.

The foundation's director Ivan Zhdanov said the anti-corruption group has not accepted any foreign funding and added that the designation is aimed at hampering the organization's activities.

The group rose to prominence due to its major anti-corruption investigations and has since grown into a Russia-wide network of Navanly supporters who probe local officials and stage opposition rallies in their regions.

rs/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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