Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new treason law which, according to opponents, put anyone who has contact with foreigners at risk, and could be used to silence critics.
The law means Russians representing international organisations could be charged with treason.
The maximum sentence for the offence is 20 years in prison, the Daily Mail reports.
Political opponents and rights activists argued that the legislation is the latest in a series of laws cracking down on the opposition and reducing foreign influence since Putin returned to the Kremlin in May for a six-year third term.
'Citizens recruited by international organisations acting against the country's interests will also be considered traitors,' the official gazette, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, said on its website.
According to the paper, Russian authorities say that the law is needed to help prevent foreign governments using organisations in Russia to gather state secrets.
The legislation allows Russians representing international organisations to be charged with treason, as well as those working for foreign states and bodies, and expands the range of actions that can be considered treasonous.
Putin signed the law on Tuesday and it took effect on Wednesday when it was published in the official gazette, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, despite a promise by the president on Monday that he would review it. (ANI)