News / Europe

Russian Democracy Groups Face Tough Times After USAID Ouster

Russia has given the United States Agency for International Development until October 1, 2012 to close its operations and leave the country.  Human rights groups in Russia say the Kremlin order will hurt their work.

The expulsion order comes with an accusation from the Kremlin that USAID has been trying to influence Russian politics.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says it had been concerned that USAID has been working to influence various elections, in addition to funding civil society institutions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has maintained that foreign countries, mainly the United States, have been encouraging and funding the massive protests he has faced since Russian parliamentary elections last December. Washington denies funding protests or favoring one political party over another.
 
Lilia Shibanova is executive director of Golos, the only independent election-monitoring agency in Russia.  Her organization is one of many to receive funds from USAID and may have to close its doors in a matter of weeks.

She says the departure of USAID is a strong blow to non-commercial sectors of Russia, since its a huge support of human rights organizations, environmental-protection centers, resource centers and in general many civil projects.  

Shibanova also says the timing of the expulsion shows the Kremlin does not want anyone monitoring its activities.

She says the October first deadline for ceasing operation raises doubts, because on October 14th there will be large regional elections.  She says her group believes the USAID expulsion is directly related  to monitoring elections through GOLOS.

A leading human right’s group, Memorial, receives funds from USAID and may also be forced to close as a result of the order.  

During the 1990s, USAID focused on helping Russia move from a state-controlled economy to a free-market system.

During the past decade, the amount of aid decreased, but it increasingly went to human-rights groups and to strengthening civil society in Russia.  In 1995, USAID spent about $257 million here compared with about $50 million this year.

A State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday despite the Kremlin order the United States will remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia.

In the few months since Mr. Putin reclaimed the presidency for a third term, the country has seen a significant crackdown on dissent.   Mr. Putin’s opponents say he runs the country through a tightly controlled political system and corruption; charges the Kremlin denies.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid