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Russia expels US aid agency for 'meddling in politics'

Russia’s foreign ministry has claimed that USAid had attempted to “influence political processes through its grants”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Image: Mikhail Metzel/AP/Press Association Images

RUSSIA HAS EXPELLED a US aid agency that has been operating in the country for a number of decades after accusing it of “meddling in politics”.

Vladimir Putin’s government has given USAid, an international development agency, until 1 October to cease operations and leave the country.

The agency, which has worked in Russia for 20 years, has spent billions of dollars on democratic programmes and aid in Russia.

Russia’s foreign ministry released a statement explaining its decision, in which it said the agency did not consistently adhere “to the stated goals of development and humanitarian cooperation”. It claimed that USAid had attempted to “influence political processes through its grants”.

The Russian government has become increasingly suspicious about the activities and motivations of non-governmental groups in the country in recent years – even home-grown agencies. This summer, it brought in new legislation requiring NGOs that receive funding from abroad and engaging in political activity to register as “foreign agents”. Critics condemned the law, saying that its vague definition of political activity could be applied against a wide range of initiatives.

Putin has also accused NGOs using foreign funding of promoting political unrest at the time of his re-election, sparking massive protests.

Announcing the closure of the USAid office today, a US state department spokesperson said it remained “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.”

Read: Putin signs law forcing some Russian NGOs to register as ‘foreign agents’>

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