MOSCOW, February 24 (RAPSI) - President Vladimir Putin has signed a law to enhance powers to conduct snap inspections of non-governmental organizations.
Grounds for surprise inspections of NGOs will include a failure to rectify infringements by a deadline previously set by an authorized agency; complaints by individuals and legal entities; information provided by government agencies, local authorities and the media about alleged extremism in the operation of NGOs; and information about violations of legislation by NGOs from federal and local authorities.
The law also permits heads of authorized agencies to order surprise inspections and gives powers to prosecutors and election commissions to request them.
A document to this effect was published on the official legal information website on Monday.
Under a controversial law approved by Putin in 2012, NGOs that receive any funding from abroad and which are considered to be engaged in political activities must register themselves as “foreign agents”. The term also supposed to be published on all materials produced by an NGO.
Fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($14,189) for NGOs and up to 300,000 rubles ($8,513) for directors of NGOs can be levied on organizations that refuse to comply.
Most NGOs have refused to register, however, describing the use of the term “foreign agent” as a return to the Soviet-era practice of labeling critics of the government as spies or traitors.
Inspections of NGOs began in late March 2013, when the Justice Ministry said that it wanted to check that organizations' activities corresponded with the objectives of their charters and with Russian legislation.
According to the ministry, 6,947 NGOs were inspected in 2012. Inspections of 206 organizations were unscheduled.