Russia mulls tighter noose for NGOs

June 4, 2013 at 9:45 AM

MOSCOW, June 4 (UPI) -- Russian authorities may be able to conduct snap inspections of non-governmental organizations working in the country, the government said Tuesday.

The Russian Justice Ministry said it was vetting the work of NGOs to ensure their work in Russia falls under the guidelines of their charters. Legislators endorsed a measure Tuesday that would give the Justice Ministry broader monitoring authority.

"The bill has been drafted to provide additional grounds for the Russian Justice Ministry to carry out unscheduled checks of NGOs which are known to have failed to comply with the requirements of Russian law," a government statement published by state news agency RIA Novosti said.

A bill endorsed last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin requires NGOs to register as "foreign agents" if they receive some of their funding from foreign governments.

The Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were raided earlier this year. Human Rights Watch said more than 250 organizations like it were raided in Russia in recent months.

Putin defended the measure as part of an anti-corruption and transparency campaign. His critics have expressed concern he's enacting measures that sideline some of his opponents, however.

RIA Novosti reported the federal government would consider the Tuesday law at a later date.

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