Russia shuts top independent vote monitor

In this Monday, May 5, 2008 file photo Russian army S-300 air defense missiles move during a final rehearsal of Victory Day parade at Red Square, with St. Basil Cathedral, right in the background, in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, June 4, 2013 that Russia hasn't yet fulfilled a contract to send sophisticated S-300 air defense missile systems to Syria to avoid tilting the balance of power in the region. Russian officials have acknowledged that Moscow signed a deal for the delivery of the powerful missiles a few years ago, but have been coy about whether any of them have been delivered. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, File)

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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