Russia shuts top independent vote monitor

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Justice Ministry says it has shut the nation’s top independent election monitoring group for failing to register as a “foreign agent” under a controversial Kremlin law.

The vote monitor, Golos, played a prominent role in documenting vote fraud in a parliamentary vote that helped fuel massive protests against President Vladimir Putin’s re-election. After being sworn in for a third term, Putin responded with a series of repressive bills, one of which required non-government organizations receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents.”

Golos and other rights groups have refused to obey the law, which they said was intended to destroy their credibility by casting them as foreign spies.

On Wednesday, the Justice Ministry said it had suspended Golos activities for six months in accordance with the law.

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