00:28 GMT +317 February 2019
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    Putin hopes NGO law to cause no tighter foreigner registration

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    MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told a forum of nongovernmental organizations in Moscow Tuesday that he hoped a controversial law on NGOs would not lead to tougher registration rules for foreigners.

    The new law, which came into effect in April, set more stringent and complicated financial reporting standards for NGOs and has been criticized in the West and by liberal groups in Russia as being too restrictive and even as a step to "authoritarian rule". Russian officials argued control over foreign NGOs in western countries was much stricter.

    "If it transpires that [requirements] are becoming more stringent [for foreigners], we will be prepared to react, and I am personally ready to initiate amendments, including those based on your recommendations," Putin told the Civil G8 forum ahead of a summit of the world's industrialized nations in St. Petersburg later this month.

    Russia holds the rotating presidency of the club this year and over 700 people representing prominent rights organizations, including the International Helsinki Group, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Charities Aid Foundation, are attending the NGO forum.

    Foreigners are required to register officially within three working days of arriving in Russia, and Putin said the law had not been enacted as a clampdown.

    "The law was designed to establish order in this area but not [impose] restrictions on this activity," Putin said.

    Lawmakers and political scientists in Russia have claimed that NGOs helped "color revolutions" in neighboring ex-Soviet countries, particularly Ukraine and Georgia, which swept away the ruling elite in favor of West-leaning authorities in 2004 and 2003.