Russian NGOs to lose American funding as USAID closes

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Russian NGOs to lose American funding as USAID closes

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The US is to close the Russian operations of its Agency for International Development to comply with a new law.

In July, the Russian parliament passed a bill restricting the funding of local non-governmental organisations from abroad.

The NGO Golos, which exposed electoral fraud during last year’s parliamentary elections, is one of the groups whose funding will be cut.

USAID currently provides the equivalent of nearly 40 million euros annually to Russian groups.

“This will pose a very big problem indeed for our organisation. We’ve been working with USAID since 2002, and it is very difficult to get funds for election monitoring from international donors,” said Lilia Shibanova, Golos’ Executive Director.

“We also see an attack against the whole sector of non-government organisations that rely on international funding.”

Human rights groups said the law was part of a wider crackdown on the pro-democracy movement following massive protests over the past 10 months.

But Russia maintained it needs to restrict foreign influence in its internal affairs.