Putin clamps down tighter on NGOs

Feb. 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM

MOSCOW, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Non-governmental organizations operating in Russia are subject to unscheduled audits under the terms of a law enacted Monday, the government said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the measure for snap inspections of NGOs, the Russian Legal Information Agency reported.

Under the terms of the provision, grounds for unscheduled inspections include allegations of extremism and suspected violations of existing legislation.

Putin in 2012 passed a law requiring NGOs to register as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from abroad. If they don't register, they're susceptible to fines of as much as $14,000.

Human rights groups said the measure was an effort to silence Putin's critics, though he defended the 2012 law as a way to shed light on how NGOs operated in Russia.

The Justice Ministry said in mid-February the non-profit group Supporting Competition in the CIS Countries was the only one to register since the law was enacted.

The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization made up of former Soviet republics.

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