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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid