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Jun 01, 2020 PRINT EDITION

MOSCOW: Russia has branded the US government-funded Atlantic Council think tank "undesirable", its General Prosecutor's Office said, calling it a security threat.

"It has been established that the activities of this organisation present a threat to the basis of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation," the prosecutor's office said in a statement late on Thursday.

Prosecutors asked Russia's justice ministry to include the think tank in a register of "undesirable" organisations in Russia, it said.

According to the Atlantic Council's website, it "promotes constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs".

Entities put on the "undesirable" list are banned from issuing any publications in Russia and risk having their bank accounts blocked. People cooperating with them could be hit with fines, jail time and banned from entering Russian.

Russia has upped pressure on civil society and NGO groups since President Vladimir Putin's re-election in 2012. His government adopted a controversial law which allows authorities to brand Russian groups engaging in broadly-defined "political activity" and that receive funding from abroad as "foreign agents".

The "undesirables" law targeting foreign organisations came into force in 2015.

The blacklist has so far targeted mainly American democracy-promoting organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, or groups controlled by people long reviled by Russian authorities, including billionaire George Soros and businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019