The question – "Will the US shut down RT ??"
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
September 18, 2012
The United States recently received the Russian Government’s decision to end USAID activities in the Russian Federation. We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID’s programs. While USAID’s physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations.
USAID shuts down Russia operation
The Russian government gave the US until 1 October to close the mission. USAID has worked in Russia for two decades, spending nearly $3bn (£1.8bn) on aid and democratic programmes.
The Russian authorities have become increasingly suspicious of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which it believes are using foreign funding to foment political unrest, says the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow. Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin alleged that protests surrounding his re-election were orchestrated by US-funded NGOs.
The United States began its operations in Russia after the end of the Soviet Union, spending around $2.7bn (£1.7bn) on a wide range of human rights, civil society, health and environmental programmes.
USAID was due to spend around $50m on its work in Russia this year.
It has become something of a tradition for Russian leaders to seek out scapegoats and enemies – and for much of the last half a century, it is the United States which has been Scapegoat and Enemy Number One. That was true during the Cold War; it is true now.
Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his conviction that Washington is trying to foment anti-government sentiment and political change in Russia – and that it is doing so by funding Russian NGOs and democracy programmes. USAID’s commitment to building a civil society is viewed by Russian officials as an attempt to spark revolution.
Since returning to the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin seems determined to crack down on NGOs that receive foreign funding. A new law forces such organisations to re-register as “foreign agents” and introduces tighter monitoring by the state. The closing down of USAID’s Russian mission seems to be another attempt to weaken Russian NGOs, particularly those focused on democracy issues and human rights.