Russia boots out USAID

Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses supporters in Manezhnaya Square on election night, March 4, 2012.

Story highlights

  • The State Department says itis "extremely proud" of the work USAID did in Russia
  • Russia says it was undermined by the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • USAID had worked in Russia for two decades

Russia has thrown out the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department said, claiming that the aid agency has undermined Russia's sovereignty.

"We have recently received a decision of the Russian Government to end USAID activities there," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said this week. "The United States is extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the last 20 years, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition those programs."

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Senior Russian officials have said that some of the agency's programs, such as some human rights groups and election monitoring, have undermined Russia's sovereignty, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti.

Nuland, speaking at a State Department briefing Wednesday, countered with:

The issue of protecting Russia's sovereignty came up several times during the run-up to Russia's presidential election this year.

On election night in Moscow in March, Vladimir Putin punctuated his victory speech with a jab at foreign influence when he said: "We showed that no one can impose anything on us -- no one, nothing! We showed that our people can distinguish between the desire for renewal and political provocation that has but one goal: to destroy Russia's statehood and usurp power."

In December, he blamed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for giving a "signal" to Russians protesting his rule to turn out for street demonstrations.

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Nuland, speaking at a State Department briefing Wednesday, argued that U.S. officials "completely reject the notion that our support for civil society, democracy, human rights, in any way interferes with elections whether in Russia or anywhere else in the world."

"It is regrettable that the Russian people are not going to be able to benefit from the support that the American people are sending their way in this areas of health (and) environment," Nuland added.

"We will continue to work with those Russians in civil society who want to work with us. We do that in many parts of the world where we dont have AID missions, and we are looking now at precisely how we'll work this through, but we are committed to stay on the side of those who want to see a more democratic, more just Russia," she said.