Russia has booted out of the country the United States Agency for International Development(USAID), accusing the organization of covertly engaging in espionage and meddling in Russia’s political affairs
Russia foreign Ministry claimed USAID has been discovered to be meddling in the internal affairs of Russia and therefore had its stay in the country declared no more tenable.
“The character of the agency’s work…did not always comply with the declared aims of cooperation in bilateral humanitarian cooperation,” Russia Foreign Ministry said on its website, accusing USAID of capitalising on financial grants and aids to tamper with the course of political process.
“We are talking about issuing grants in an attempt to affect the course of the political processes in the country, including elections at different levels and institutions in civil society.”
According to the Foreign Ministry, USAID was attempting to manipulate all circumstances relating to the election processes in the country.
In an interview to Kommersant, Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press-secretary, suggested that the US agency was not abiding by the rules regulating their work with NGOs.
USAID now has until October 1 to close the mission down completely .
“As all foreign agencies that provide financial support for Russian NGOs, USAID should abide by Russia’s legal regulations,” Peskov said. “As long as the Americans abide by these norms, we obviously couldn’t make a decision to terminate their activities on Russian territory.”
“Russian civil society has become fully matured”, the Foreign Ministry said, and did not need any “external direction.” Moscow is ready to work with USAID in third-party countries, it said.
The law requires that Russian-based NGOs provide information as to how funds received from abroad are being used in Russia.
The United States has denied that USAID programs are aimed at interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs after United States Agency for International Development (USAID) confirmed it was closing its offices in Russia.
After 20 years of working in Russia, USAID officials said they were informed by the Russian government that their services were no longer required.
The United States has denied that USAID programs are aimed at interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs.
US State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced the termination of USAID’s operations in Russia on Tuesday. The Kremlin notified US officials they have until October 1 to close the mission.
Washington began its USAID operations in Moscow following the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time, Russia was a basket case, dependent on IMF loan transfusions just to keep its head above water. USAID spent more than $2.6 billion in Russia on various projects, like cleaning up the environment and fighting against infectious diseases.
Russia’s domestic situation began to turn around, however, when the presidency passed from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin. Today, Russia has not only returned its debts, but is now a lender of last resort for countries hammered by the 2008 financial crisis.
Although Russia’s reversal of fortunes is often explained by its vast natural resources, political will also played a significant role in the progress.
Since Russia no longer sees itself as a charity case, USAID activities were increasingly viewed as not only redundant, but even a little humiliating.
Aside from the growing irrelevance of such foreign-sponsored activities, there was the nagging suspicion inside Russia that these agencies served as fronts for purely political motives.
This year, for example, USAID was allotted $50 million to finance its Russia activities. Approximately 60 per cent of the budget was to be used for promoting democracy and human rights. This represents a dramatic increase compared with the former Bush administration.