Russia bans 'undesirable' Khodorkovsky NGOs

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is the head of the Open Russia movement and a former oil tycoon who served 10 years in jail after openly opposing President Vladimir Putin

Russia on Wednesday banned three organisations associated with former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, branding them "undesirable" for allegedly seeking to stir unrest and discredit elections.

OR (Otkrytaya Rossia), the Institute of Modern Russia and the Open Russia Civic Movement have been recognised as "undesirable" by the Prosecutor General in line with a controversial Russian law that targets foreign groups accused of political meddling.

"Their activities are directed at inspiring protests and destabilising domestic politics, which is a threat to the foundations of the Russian constitutional system and state security," the Prosecutor General said of the three organisations.

The three foundations backed by Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky, who has lived abroad since his unexpected 2013 release from a decade-long jail term, join seven other, mostly American organisations on the list of "undesirables" kept by the Russian justice ministry.

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

Khodorkovsky, who owned Yukos oil giant before he was convicted in two controversial cases, now lives abroad but Open Russia maintains an office and a popular website in Russia.

The former tycoon has also called an anti-Vladimir Putin protest on Saturday which has been advertised via social networks and the website OpenRussia.org.

The website said Wednesday that it is registered in Russia and therefore cannot be banned through the "undesirables" law.

Khodorkovsky on his Twitter wrote that he was "proud" to be on the list. "We've touched a nerve," he said. "

Russia has upped pressure on civil society groups since Putin's reelection in 2012 when it adopted the law which has allowed authorities to brand groups engaging in broadly-defined "political activity" and that receive funding from abroad as "foreign agents".