MOSCOW, January 20 (RAPSI)- Members of the Presidential Human Rights Council have proposed changes to the law on non-profit organizations and foreign agents that resulted in hundreds of public organizations having to undergo inspections and pay fines over the past year, Kommersant reported Monday.

The council proposes that “a foreign agent” be defined as follows: “a Russian corporate entity funded by a foreign state and involved in political activity in Russia in the interests of the foreign state and under a respective agreement.”

Political activity includes “election to government bodies and local government” as well as “providing organizational, financial, information and consultation support to political parties and independent candidates,” the newspaper says.

“It has been proposed that it should be the court’s responsibility to confer foreign agent status on a non-profit organization, rather than the Ministry of Justice, which currently does so on the basis of the results of a prosecutor’s investigation but not a trial involving the human rights activists themselves,” Kommersant reports.

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.