Foreign-funded NGOs in Russia may face tough rules

By the Associated Press | July 2, 2012 | 1:40 PM EDT

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian lawmakers are considering a bill that imposes harsh new restrictions on non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding.

President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States in particular of funding Russian NGOs with the aim of influencing elections.

Under the bill, any group engaged in "political" activities would have to register as a "foreign agent" and post the label "foreign agent" on its website and publications. Failure to do so would be punishable by up to four years in prison or a fine of up to 300,000 rubles (more than $9,000).

The groups also would face tougher reporting and auditing requirements.

Putin, who has faced a series of massive protests against his rule, has toughened his stance on opposition activities since returning to the presidency in May.