Washington (AFP) - The United States said it was "deeply troubled" after Russian President Vladimir Putin officially enacted a controversial law banning what Moscow deems to be "undesirable" non-governmental organizations.
Under the highly controversial law, passed by the Russian parliament this week, authorities can ban foreign NGOs and go after their employees, who risk up to six years in prison or being barred from the country.
The move has been widely condemned by human rights groups, and critics have said that the vague wording of the law could also allow officials to target foreign businesses working in Russia.
"We are concerned this new power will further restrict the work of civil society in Russia and is a further example of the Russian government's growing crackdown on independent voices and intentional steps to isolate the Russian people from the world," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
"We continue to be concerned about increasing restrictions on independent media, civil society, members of minority groups and the political opposition," she added in a statement that is likely to be dismissed with disdain by the Kremlin.
"Russians, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law and the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution."