Russia Ending USAID Programs, State Department Says
“While USAID’s physical presence in Russia will come to an end, 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 organizations,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.
USAID, previously known as the U.S. Agency for International Development, has financed nongovernmental organizations in Russia including Golos, a vote-monitoring group, and Memorial, a human-rights organization. Such aid has been in doubt since Russia’s passage of legislation requiring groups that receive aid from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and submit to tighter restrictions.
“The Russian government’s decision to end all USAID activities in the country is an insult to the United States and a finger in the eye of the Obama administration, which has consistently trumpeted the alleged success of its so-called reset policy toward Moscow,” Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said in an e-mailed statement after the State Department announcement.
While McCain said Russia’s action “should prompt strong criticism from the highest levels of the White House and the State Department,” Nuland had declined at a State Department briefing yesterday to criticize what she called “a sovereign nation’s decision whether they want to have our assistance.”
USAID has provided $2.7 billion to Russia over the last 20 years on programs from fighting AIDS and tuberculosis to supporting environmental protection, Nuland said. She said Russia informed the U.S. that the operations would be cut off in a diplomatic note on Sept. 12.
Freedom House, which calls itself a watchdog group backing democratic change and human rights, said the Obama administration should have resisted the request to end operations in Russia and forced Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “to publicly kick out USAID.”
“The move is likely a demoralizing and devastating blow to an increasingly embattled Russian civil society,” David J. Kramer, president of the New York-based group, said in an e- mailed statement.
To contact the reporter on this story: Larry Liebert in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at email@example.com
Bloomberg moderates all comments. Comments that are abusive or off-topic will not be posted to the site. Excessively long comments may be moderated as well. Bloomberg cannot facilitate requests to remove comments or explain individual moderation decisions.