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MOSCOW — A nonprofit organization exposing corruption in Russia and run by opposition leader Alexei Navalny was designated Wednesday by the Justice Ministry as a ‘‘foreign agent,’’ crippling its ability to keep working.

A 2012 Russian law holds that any organization that receives foreign money to engage in ‘‘political activity’’ must register with the authorities and submit to time-consuming regular ‘‘audits.’’

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, known by its Russian initials as FBK, has ‘‘never received foreign donations,’’ its spokeswoman, Kira Yarmish, tweeted. The designation is ‘‘an attempt to stop our activities,’’ she wrote.

Navalny, who has become the most prominent Russian critic of President Vladimir Putin, tweeted: ‘‘FBK has never received a kopeck of foreign money. All of FBK’s money comes from your donations (from citizens of the Russian Federation). The actions of the Ministry of Justice are absolutely illegal and, obviously, by direct order of Putin.’’

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He also demanded that the Justice Ministry make public any evidence of foreign donations it might have.

washington post