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Regional branch of Russian NGO shut down

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October 1, 2013 02:59 AM EST | AP

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MOSCOW — A Russian election monitoring organization says that the country's Justice Ministry has shut down its regional arm for three months for failing to register as a "foreign agent."

Golos co-chairman Grigory Melkonyants told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the NGO, which worked to bolster public involvement in regional politics, was temporarily closed by the ministry decision late on Monday evening.

Golos, Russia's leading election monitor, has been particularly affected by a law that forces any organization receiving funding from abroad and performing "political activity" to call themselves foreign agent – a term that equates in Russian to spying for a foreign government.

In April, Golos was closed by a court order and fined a total of 400,000 rubles (over $12,000) for failing to comply with the law.