MOSCOW, January 17 (RAPSI) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allocating 2.7 billion rubles (nearly $81 million) in grants to NGOs in the country, the Kremlin announced Friday.

The funds are being allocated from Russia’s federal budget for 2014. The sum will be dispersed among NGOs serving the social sphere, and those engaged in human rights advocacy.

It was revealed in February 2013 that the Russian authorities planned to change the rules for issuing grants to human rights organizations and other NGOs. The planned amendments include a new rule on publishing the list of all grant seekers, something which was not done before.

It was reported that grant recipients would be obliged to provide a detailed report on their annual performance and the concrete results of their projects. NGOs that submit dishonest statements would be blacklisted and denied funding for a period of several years. A review of the rules for issuing grants was addressed after the Russian government decided to increase state allocations to NGOs in 2013.

The procedure for allocating the grants stipulates that a set number of NGOs are to establish special commissions to deal with organizations seeking funds. Two bidding actions are expected to be held this year - the first one by July 1 and the second by November 3. It will be determined in the end who will be awarded with the grants. Seven NGOs will be responsible for allocating the grants.

A law regarding NGOs which receive foreign funding took effect in November 2012. It relegates politically active NGOs with foreign sources of funding to a registry of "foreign agents." Once registered, these NGOs face heightened scrutiny. They are required to file regular disclosures with the government and to mark all materials disseminated through major channels as the product of a "foreign agent." The law also requires NGOs to publish a biannual performance report and to carry out an annual financial audit.