Putin Signs Law Branding NGOs 'Foreign Agents'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial bill passed by parliament that brands NGOs who receive funding from abroad as "foreign agents", the Kremlin said Saturday.

The law, which has caused huge concern among activists who fear it will be used to stigmatize critical NGOs, was signed by Putin after it was rushed through the lower and upper houses of parliament before their summer breaks.

Putin "signed the federal law on regulating the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who carry out the role of a foreign agent", the Kremlin said in a statement.

The law, which sailed through the State Duma lower house on July 13 and then the upper house Federation Council on July 18, requires NGOs who receive foreign funding to register with the authorities as foreign agents.

The NGOs will have to allow official checks of their income, accounting and management structure as well as regularly make public their sources of income and their management.

Analysts believe the law appears to be a response to the criticism by NGO election watchdogs of December parliamentary polls and the March presidential elections won by Putin which were followed by mass anti-Kremlin protests.

Putin has lashed out at foreign-funded Russian election NGOs such as the watchdog Golos, whose evidence of vote-rigging was used by the opposition to back claims the polls were illegitimate.

Source: Agence France Presse

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