The decision to terminate the activity of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, in Russia has expectedly caused a great deal of noise. Human rights advocates are in shock, State Department is calming them down, Senator McCain said that this was an insult to the U.S., and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains why it shut down USAID.
Before the incident, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the U.S. has recently learned about the Russian government's decision to put an end to the activities of USAID in Russia. She added, "We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades."
The Agency for International Development was established in 1961, and the act of its creation was signed by U.S. President John F. Kennedy. The agency began its work In Russia in 1992. For 20 years, according to Nuland, USAID has spent $2.7 billion in Russia. Of which, not very confidently said the State Department spokeswoman, a third went to "the development of democracy."
Of course, USAID has worked not only with human rights activists, but also with government agencies, large local companies, etc. The human rights activists, of course, are upset the most.
In particular, the decision to close the agency's office in Russia extremely upset the association "The Voice", which monitors elections. "The hastiness and sudden nature of this decision is apparently related to the elections on October 14. We will look for any means to maintain at least the web project (" Map of election fraud.)", said Shibanova. The executive director of "The Voice" is not concerned by the fact that the activities of the association monitoring Russian elections depended entirely on the help of USAID.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, confirmed that the termination of USAID activity in Russia is connected with the attempts to influence the political process. "The Russian Foreign Ministry officially informed the U.S. side that the activities of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Russian Federation should be discontinued starting October 1st of this year. Such a decision is due primarily to the fact that the nature of the agency representatives in our country did not always meet the stated goals of promoting bilateral humanitarian cooperation," said in his statement Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
"This decision (to shut down USAID) is made due to attempts of the agency to influence political processes, civil society institutions, and elections at various levels, through distribution of grants," he said.
The longtime "well-wisher" of Russia, Republican Senator John McCain, described Moscow's closure of the USAID mission as "an insult to the United States and a finger in the eye of the Obama Administration."
The Senator's concerns are understandable. The agency mission was not the distribution of grants alone. Media had reports that USAID served as a cover for the activities of organizations that are anything but charitable. Insulting or not, but the incident is indeed not a pleasant one for Washington.