Russia will spurn Earth Hour over WWF's 'Foreign Agent' status, says Kremlin

MOSCOW, March 24 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that Russia would not take part in this year's Earth Hour event, citing Moscow's designation of the Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which organises the event, as a "foreign agent".

Earth Hour, a worldwide movement organised by the WWF, encourages individuals, communities and businesses to turn off non-essential lights for an hour on the last Saturday of March, in a symbolic commitment to tackle climate change.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "This year we have decided to refrain from participating in this action. This is due precisely to the fact that (the organisers) have become foreign agents".

The WWF's Russian branch was declared a "foreign agent" by the country's Justice Ministry on March 10. The ministry did not provide any reason for the designation, or clarify which country it accused the WWF of receiving funds from.

The WWF's Russian group called the designation "unjustified" and said it would seek to have it overturned by the courts.

The designation, which critics have described as redolent of Soviet-era practices aimed at crushing dissent, requires an organisation to make detailed financial disclosures and preface all public statements with a lengthy disclaimer.

Reporting by Reuters Editing by Andrew Osborn

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