WASHINGTON, October 1 (Itar-Tass) — The mission of the US government’s Agency for International Development (USAID) can work in Moscow only with the consent of the Government of Russia, an official of the US State Department admitted in an interview with Itar-Tass in connection with the expiring on Monday deadline for the closedown of USAID office in Russia, set by Moscow for Washington. However, the US State Department representative could not clarify whether all the activities of USAID in Russia are terminated on Monday or the Obama administration still hopes to continue it for some additional time.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that USAID was attempting to manipulate the election processes in the country. “The character of the agency’s work…did not always comply with the declared aims of cooperation in bilateral humanitarian cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website. “We are talking about issuing grants in an attempt to affect the course of the political processes in the country, including elections at different levels and institutions in civil society.” Russian civil society has become fully mature, the Foreign Ministry said, and did not need any “external direction.” Moscow is ready to work with USAID in third-party countries, it said. Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press-secretary, suggested that the US agency was not abiding by the rules regulating their work with NGOs. “As all foreign agencies that provide financial support for Russian NGOs, USAID should abide by Russia's legal regulations,” Peskov said. “As long as the Americans abide by these norms, we obviously couldn't make a decision to terminate their activities on Russian territory.”
The Russian government has determined October 1 as the deadline for the termination of USAID activity in Russia. Missions act only with the consent of the governments of the host countries, said the US diplomat. She noted that the US authorities are “currently focusing efforts on the termination of the USAID mission (in Russia), giving the priority to the needs of its staff, as well as to fulfilling our obligations to the many partners in place.”
The US State Department official said that Washington considers “regrettable” Russia’s decision to terminate the USAID mission in Moscow. In addition, the Russian government has recently taken a number of measures “that restrict human rights and civil society,” the diplomat claimed. She said the US government “remains very concerned (over such) recent trends in Russia.”
From the US viewpoint, USAID that has worked in Russia for 20 years, “served the interests of Russians,” implementing projects in the sphere of “fighting against the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, as well as in the sphere of environmental protection, the fight against corruption and the protection of human rights,” the US State Department official said. She stressed that “our commitment to the development of Russia’s civil society is strong, and we are actively exploring ways to support Russian non-governmental organisations and activists.”