Saturday, December 24, 2005

To/From Russia With Love

Russian Bill Moves to Limit Activist Groups

Russia's lower house of parliament Friday approved a controversial crackdown on the activities of nongovernmental organizations, brushing aside widespread concern that the measure would stifle civil society in Russia and mark another regressive milestone in the country's post-Soviet evolution.

The legislation creates an agency to oversee Russia's 400,000 foreign and domestic NGOs and gives that agency authority to shut down any NGO perceived to be a threat to Russia's "sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, unity, cultural heritage or national interests."
FBI Watched Domestic Activist Groups

Counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have conducted numerous surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations that involved, at least indirectly, groups active in causes as diverse as the environment, animal cruelty and poverty relief.

But the documents, coming after the Bush administration's confirmation that President Bush had authorized some spying without warrants in fighting terrorism, prompted charges from civil rights advocates that the government had improperly blurred the line between terrorism and acts of civil disobedience and lawful protest.

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


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