Putin seeks to tighten "foreign agent" law

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to tighten laws covering "foreign agents" in the country.

Putin introduced a new initiative in the Duma on Thursday to revise the country's regulations covering how non-profit organizations can avoid being put on the Register of Foreign Agents. According to the text of the bill published on the Duma's website, non-profit organizations can apply for an exclusion from the register after undergoing an unscheduled inspection of their property. 

An organization will be excluded from the list if "the non-profit organization in the year prior to submitting an application does not receive cash and other property from foreign sources, and did not participate in political activities in Russian territory."

Critics of the law including Human Rights Watch say the definition of "political activity" is both broad and vague and that the "foreign agent" label could be used as a smear tactic against opposition organizations. 

Russia's controversial Foreign Agents Law was adopted in 2012 and requires any organizations engaged in "political activity" and receiving funding from outside of Russia to register with the ministry of justice as a "foreign agent."

More than 55 different organizations have been audited under suspicion of receiving foreign funding or failure to comply with the law, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and the Russian human rights organization Memorial.

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