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U.S. denies meddling in Russian politics

  |   Sept. 20, 2012 at 10:55 AM
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. government policy is to promote democracy, though USAID hadn't interfered in Russian elections, a State Department spokeswoman said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development ended its presence in Russia after Kremlin officials said the aid agency was interfering with political processes in the country.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had said that while it was within Moscow's sovereign right to do so, the U.S. government "completely" rejected the notion that USAID was interfering in Russia's internal affairs.

She backed the agency's role in Russia, saying it spent about $50 million per year to address health, environmental and other programs in the country.

Nevertheless, she said that it was U.S. policy to promote free and fair democratic systems across the globe.

"We make no secret of the fact that when we are supporting free, fair, transparent elections, that's what we want to see," she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured a third non-consecutive term during elections early this year. Protests erupted following his victory. Opposition voices in Russia grew louder since State Duma elections in December. Those elections, which saw the ruling United Russia party secure its dominance, were viewed as slanted in Putin's favor.

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