Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial new law into power, classifying internationally funded non-governmental agencies (NGOs) as “foreign agents,” the Kremlin announced on Saturday.

Under the law, independent NGOs must disclose any funding received from abroad, or risk penalties or imprisonment.

Russian rights activists fear that they could be marginalised and considered spies as a result of the law, which was rushed through the upper and lower houses of parliament this month.

Parliament has approved two further bills this month, on internet censorship and criminalising defamation, seen by regime critics as ways of stifling opposition.

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