Russian Opposition: USAID Departure Will Hurt Putin
The general assumption among civil society activists in the West is that the Kremlin’s decision to kick USAID out of Russia is a body blow to the country’s non-governmental sector. But Garry Kasparov and other prominent opposition figures in Russia contend that USAID’s departure will hurt Putin more than help him.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced September 18 that USAID must cease operations in Russia by the end of the month. In a video clip posted on the ministry’s website, Foreign Ministry representative, Alexander Lukashevich, justified the move by alleging that USAID was aiming to “influence the [Russian] political process.” Russian officials have summarily dismissed US diplomatic efforts to extend the October 1 closure deadline for USAID.
Civil society activists worry that the USAID move marks the opening salvo in broad a Russian government offensive against non-governmental organizations in the country.
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