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Russia Pulls Out of Anti-Drug Agreement with U.S.

Russia says it is pulling out of an agreement with the United States to work together on controlling illegal drugs, in the latest of a series of moves indicating the two governments may be pulling away from one another.

The order signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appeared Wednesday on the Russian government website. It said Moscow is withdrawing from the deal because it "does not address current realities and has exhausted its potential."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States regrets the Russian decision and calls it self-defeating. She says the United States had very fruitful cooperation with Russia on the rule of law, fighting corruption, banned drugs, and human trafficking.

Russia's announcement Wednesday came just days after the United States said it is pulling out of a working group with Russia supporting civil society organizations. The State Department says the decision was made because of the Russian government's recent restrictions on civil society.

Those restrictions include new penalties for unsanctioned gatherings, running websites with "extremist" content, and threatening journalists with prison terms for slander.

Moscow has targeted several organizations in recent months which have benefited from American aid. In October, Russia kicked out the U.S. Agency for International Development, accusing it of interfering in Russian political affairs -- something Washington strongly denies.

In one of the most prominent disputes between the former Cold War foes, the United States passed a law last year imposing a visa ban and financial sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations.

The law is named for lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison at age 37 after accusing officials of involvement in a $230 million tax scam. Magnitsky was later charged with the very crimes he says he uncovered.

His case became a symbol of alleged prison abuse in modern Russia.

After passage of the Magnitsky Act, Russian President Vladimir Putin then quickly signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

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