World

Russian NGOs urge Putin to document claim that groups received nearly $1 billion from abroad

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and the head of Russia's Buddhist community Lama Damba Ayusheyev, left, attend a ceremony at the Ivolga Buddhist Datsan Monastery in the town of Verkhnyaya Ivolga in southern Siberia, on Thursday, April 11, 2013. Russia is home to almost two million Buddhists that mostly adhere to Tibetan versions of Buddhism. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and the head of Russia's Buddhist community Lama Damba Ayusheyev, left, attend a ceremony at the Ivolga Buddhist Datsan Monastery in the town of Verkhnyaya Ivolga in southern Siberia, on Thursday, April 11, 2013. Russia is home to almost two million Buddhists that mostly adhere to Tibetan versions of Buddhism. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Russian non-government organizations have urged President Vladimir Putin to prove his claim that the nation's NGOs had received nearly $1 billion from foreign sponsors.

Putin has made the claim to justify the sweeping raids of hundreds of Russian NGOs that has drawn a strong criticism in the West.

Putin insisted that the raids are necessary to check compliance with a new law that requires the NGOs that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined political activities to register as "foreign agents."

Putin claimed that Russian NGOs had received $1 billion from abroad, and that the public has the right to know who funded them. Top NGOs dismissed the claim Thursday, saying the sum looks inflated and urging Putin to document it.