Russian legislators aligned with President Vladimir I. Putin have introduced a bill to require nonprofit organizations that get aid from abroad to declare themselves “foreign agents,” reports The New York Times.
The measure, set to begin working its way through the parliament on Friday, would also open such groups to annual audits, unannounced checks for use of “extremist speech,” and fines of up to $30,000 for violations.
Rights activists, the target of a crackdown on public protests since Mr. Putin returned to the presidency in May, said the “foreign agent” tag is aimed at discrediting their work, which they said few Russian donors are willing to bankroll for fear of government retaliation.
Aleksandr Sidyakin, a lawmaker from Mr. Putin’s United Russia party and a sponsor of the bill, characterized foreign funding of nonprofits as a form of “soft power” aimed at provoking “a colored revolution” like those that toppled regimes in Georgia and Ukraine a decade ago. “The United States is trying to affect Russian politics,” he said.