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Putin says he may review 'foreign agents' law

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he may recommend changes to a much-criticised law branding some non-governmental organisations as "foreign agents" for their links to the West.

Putin told civic leaders attending the Civil Summit of the G20 group of major economies in Moscow that he had heard complaints about the new law.

"I agree with our colleagues ... about the need to analyse the practice of how (the law) is applied," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as telling the civic leaders.

"We should think about improving this legislation so that it does not bother anyone," he said.

The measure slaps some NGOs with Western funding and activities seen as political with a "foreign agent" tag that in Russian implies that the group is working as a spy.

NGOs that register as foreign agents are subject to arduous quarterly financial and other checks that effectively paralyse their activities.

Those that refuse to register under the new law but are deemed to be Western money recipients are subject to stiff fines and potentially limited in their future work.

The law was passed after Putin accused the West of funding the street protests that rose against his rule in the runup to his March 2012 presidential election to a third term.

Officials said that hundreds of Russian groups may be branded as foreign agents as a result.

The law has provoked concern in Western states and among rights groups in part because it came amid a wave of other legislation that critics say has put strict limits on political dissent.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130614/putin-says-he-may-review-foreign-agents-law