Russia expels USAID development agency
RUSSIA — Relations are getting frosty in the United States/Russian alliance. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced yesterday that it will close its offices in Russia after receiving an order from the authorities there to cease operations. The Russian government gave the US until 1 October to close the mission, accusing it of meddling in politics, reports BBC News. USAID has worked in Russia for two decades, spending billions on aid and democratic missions. The expulsion follows a government crackdown on pro-democracy groups.
“The decision was taken mainly because the work of the agency’s officials far from always responded to the stated goals of development and humanitarian cooperation. We are talking about attempts to influence political processes through its grants,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Russian authorities are increasingly suspicious of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which it believes are using foreign funding to foment political unrest, says the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow.
Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin alleged that protests surrounding his re-election were orchestrated by US-funded NGOs.
Among the groups likely to be affected is Golos, whose exposure of electoral fraud at last year’s parliamentary elections helped spark huge anti-Kremlin street demonstrations. Golos is partly funded by USAID.
“We remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organisations,” said Victoria Nuland, US State Department spokesperson. more