MOSCOW, July 25 - RAPSI. Moscow Helsinki Group leader Ludmila Alexeeva and Movement For Human Rights Director Lev Ponomarev have asked U.S. President Barack Obama in an open letter if their organizations are U.S. agents, according to the movement’s press service.

The open letter was forwarded to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.A law was recently approved envisaging a registry of non-profit entities operating 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.

The bill 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 on the Internet twice a year.

Any materials published by such non-profit organizations, including in the media or online, should be marked as coming from a foreign agent.

The receipt of any funds or other assets equal to or exceeding 200,000 rubles ($6,260) by a foreign agent will be flagged.

Human rights activists have stressed that the law is overtly discriminatory and beyond the legal framework.

Earlier, two major human rights organizations For Human Rights and Memorial said they will not obtain foreign agent registration, and have no intention of giving up foreign grants.