Clinton says U.S. doesn't direct NGOs

Aug. 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington does not direct the efforts of non-governmental organizations in Russia that receive U.S. grants.

Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti said Clinton, in a letter to human rights advocate Lev Ponomaryov, denied Russian claims the United States is using NGOs in Russia to promote political change.

"In response to your specific question regarding whether NGO recipients of U.S. grants are 'agents' of the U.S. government, let me state categorically that we do not dictate your goals or direct your actions, nor do we have any desire to do so," Clinton wrote in the letter, RIA Novosti said.

A law signed earlier this year by Russian President Vladimir Putin requires foreign-funded NGOs involved in politics to declare themselves "foreign agents."

Ponomaryov, head of the Russian group For Human Rights, denies taking orders from the U.S. State Department. He told RIA Novosti he wrote to Clinton to "show the absurdity" of the new legislation.

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