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MOSCOW, August 31 - RAPSI. Moscow Helsinki Group leader Ludmila Alexeyeva and Movement For Human Rights Director Lev Ponomarev have received from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton an answer to the question they posed to President Barak Obama relating to the foreign-agent status of US-funded Russian NGOs.
Clinton stated clearly that the United States neither imposes any objectives on their organization nor controls their activities, nor does it have any wish to do so.
The letter reads that the activists of organizations receiving U.S. aid are responsible for determining their priorities and activities, not their donors.
The Moscow Helsinki Group's press service states that Alexeyeva and Ponomarev asked the U.S. president in an open letter in July if their organizations can be considered US agents.
A law was recently approved in Russia establishing a registry of non-profit entities which operate as "foreign agents." Entities must apply to be entered into the registry before they can begin operating. Their financial statements will be subject to compulsory audits.
Human rights activists have stressed that the law is overtly discriminatory and beyond the legal framework.
The answer received on August 29 was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Helsinki Group reports on its website.
The bill on foreign agents was approved by the State Duma on July 13 and endorsed by the Federation Council on July 18. It was signed into law by the president on July 20.
Foreign agents must report to a federal executive authority on their activities and their leadership twice a year, submit a quarterly report on the application of their funds and other assets, including those received from abroad, and also produce an annual audit report.
Reports on their activities must be posted online twice a year.
Any material published by a non-government organization, including in the media or online, must be marked that it is a foreign agent source.
The receipt of any funds or other assets equal to or exceeding 200,000 rubles ($6,460) by a foreign agent will be flagged.
Two major human rights organizations, For Human Rights and Memorial, have said they will not obtain foreign agent registration, and have no intention of giving up foreign grants.