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Lawmakers pass ban on officials' foreign-funded scientific activity

MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) - The lower house of Russia's parliament adopted Friday on a first reading a draft law banning state and municipal officials from teaching or conducting scientific activity on foreign funds.

The bill, aimed at preventing foreign governments and organizations from influencing decision-making in Russia, would also ban officials from working on management bodies of foreign NGOs, and at their offices within the country.

With the necessary 226 votes, the bill was backed by 429 deputies, with no votes against and one abstention.

The restrictions refer in particular to the Audit Chamber chief and auditors, the chairman of the Central Bank, and customs officials.

The new rules are also likely to extend to the secretary of the Security Council, prosecutors, judges, State Courier Service officials, Federation Council members, State Duma deputies, servicemen, local self-government officials including heads of administrations, civil servants, regional lawmakers, and Interior Ministry officers.

The bill was introduced by a group of deputies from all five Duma factions.

According to a member of the State Duma's Rodina faction, Ivan Kharchenko - one of the authors of the amendments - payments running into tens of thousands of dollars which Russian officials often receive for lecturing abroad could be "interpreted as a disguised and sophisticated way of influencing decision making."

"We believe that if an official serves Russia and its people, he must be financed exclusively from the funds of the federal budget," the Russian business paper Vzglyad quoted Kharchenko as saying on Tuesday.

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