BRUSSELS, September 12 - RAPSI. The European Union will support the activity of a number of Russian NGOs which contribute to Russia's modernization as "the EU has a strong interest in a stable, prosperous and democratic Russia," EU diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday.

She delivered a speech at the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where participants discussed the legal and human rights situation in Russia.

Referencing a recently passed law that will classify foreign-funded NGOs as "foreign agents," Ashton stressed that the EU does not aim to control NGO activity and in no way are these Russian organizations acting as agents of the EU or anybody else.

Ashton expressed "serious concerns over ... the overall worsening situation for civil society in Russia".

As for the Pussy Riot case, Ashton has already condemned last month's sentence on the Pussy Riot band members as "disproportionate" and called their actions a non-violent expression of political views.

She added: "Taken together, the package of legislation limiting the freedom of assembly, restricting NGOs, curtailing the freedom of the Internet, the Pussy Riot case... constitutes a trend that is of very serious concern to the European Union".

On February 21, 2012, five young women wearing brightly colored balaclavas stood at the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and performed a protest song entitled, "Holy Sh*t." Shortly thereafter, an edited video of the performance that was uploaded to the Internet incited a public outcry.

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of disorderly conduct and sentenced on August 17 to two years imprisonment.