Russian rights NGO disbands under ‘foreign agent’ pressure

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Lev Ponomarev

FILE- In this file photo taken on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev attends an annual meeting of opposition and human rights activists in Moscow, Russia. A longtime Russian human rights organization has announced it is disbanding due to pressure from the country’s foreign agents law. The organization For Human Rights said in a statement Sunday March 7, 2021, that it was disbanding, citing the inclusion of its leader Lev Ponomarev on the Justice Ministry’s list of foreign agents. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — A longtime human rights organization in Russia announced Sunday it’s disbanding because of pressure from the country’s foreign agents law.

The law requires organizations and individuals involved in vaguely defined political activity and who receive assistance from abroad to register as foreign agents. It seen as an attempt to discredit activists because of the pejorative connotation that the term “foreign agent” carries for many Russians.

The organization For Human Rights said in a statement that it was disbanding, citing the inclusion of its leader, Lev Ponomarev, on the Justice Ministry’s list of foreign agents.

It also said the law could subject its members to fines and imprisonment. Ponomarev, a veteran human rights activist, founded the organization in 1997.

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