MOSCOW, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The United States slammed Russia's decision to close a local U.S. aid agency by saying United Russia party members have participated in U.S.-funded activities.
The Russian government has given the local office of the U.S. Agency for International Development until Oct. 1 to close its doors, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported.
USAID, Russia said, "attempts to exert influence, via the distribution of grants," upon elections and civil institutions.
Criticizing the decision, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Russia's ruling United Russia party has taken part in programs and conferences offered by the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which is funded by the United States.
"For years the Party of Crooks and Thieves has with pleasure partnered with the Americans," opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov wrote in his blog Friday, using a popular nickname for United Russia used by the opposition.
United Russia countered that the accusation was petty.
"The announcement looks like an unfounded and emotional reaction," said senior party member Aleksei Chesnakov.