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U.S. shrugs off USAID move by Moscow

Sept. 19, 2012 at 9:41 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is committed to supporting democracy and human rights in Russia though a key agency ended operations there, a spokeswoman said.

Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports that "senior Russian officials" have suggested that some programs backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development are attempts to undermine the country's sovereignty.

Russian independent news station RT quotes the Russia Foreign Ministry as saying USAID was attempting to "affect the course of the political processes in the country, including elections at different levels and institutions in civil society."

Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, stressed the Kremlin has the sovereign right to ends its relationship with USAID.

"And while our USAID physical presence in Russia is going to end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia, and we look forward to continuing our close cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations," she said.

There was no public information from USAID regarding the Russian decision. The program there was described by the agency on its website as one working toward Russia's social and economic development.

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