News / Europe

USAID Shutdown in Russia Will Hurt Civil Society

The United States says it will comply with Russia’s request to end all programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development - or USAID - a request the U.S. describes as “regrettable.” Experts believe that action will hurt Russian non-governmental organizations that deal with democracy and human rights.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States is extremely proud of the work USAID has done in Russia over the past 20 years in such areas as environment and health.

“And with regard to our support for civil society, for democracy, for human rights, for the rule of law, we will continue to work with those Russians in civil society who want to work with us," said Nuland.

Over the years, USAID has helped fund some of the most well-known Russian civil society organizations - such as Golos, Moscow’s only independent vote counting group, and Memorial, one of the country’s leading human rights groups.

David Kramer, president of Freedom House and a former senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration, says it is groups like Golos and Memorial who will suffer the most.

“It leaves them standing alone. It’s a very bad blow to them. Some of them may have assumed that something like this was going to happen, and perhaps they have been making plans. But for some of them they are dependent on outside funding without which they might risk going out of business. So I think it means while they are trying to stand up, we’re pulling out. That sends a terrible message, in my view," said Kramer.

Kramer says the demand to shut down USAID’s Russian programs is definitely the work of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is the latest step by Putin to crack down on civil society in Russia, following the legislation that would require NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to assume the ‘foreign agent’ label, increased penalties for protesting, re-criminalization of defamation - all of these things - raids on opposition leaders’ homes and arresting their spouses, investigating their families. And so this is now the next step, which is to push out foreign funders such as USAID from Russia," he said.

Marshal Goldman, Russia expert and professor emeritus at Harvard University, agrees.

“If you are operating in Russia and you are singled out by Putin, you have to be very concerned that you are now in the spotlight - and in Russia you never know what is going to happen if you are on a targeted list," said Goldman.

USAID has until October 1 to end its presence in Russia.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More