January 26, 2013
US Quits Joint Rights Working Group with Russia
The United States has withdrawn from a joint rights working group with Russia supporting civil society organizations amid tensions over human rights and freedoms.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday that the decision had been made in light of the Russian government's recent restrictions on civil society. She said the working group is no longer effective.
Nuland said Washington will continue to work with Russia on various issues, including human rights, but will speak straight when there are disagreements.
In recent months, Moscow has targeted several organizations and Russian non-governmental organizations that benefited from American aid. In October, Russia kicked out the U.S. Agency for International Development, accusing it of interfering in Russian political affairs - an accusation strongly denied by Washington.
The working group for civil society was created in 2009 along with other working groups in an agreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. However, relations between Washington and Moscow have worsened since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in Russia last year.