Expelling USAID fits into the Kremlin's goals of fortifying Russia against outside influences and searching for enemies within, says one researcher.
Russia's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the U.S. Agency for International Development was being barred from operating in the country beginning Oct. 1 because it had meddled in elections.
The statement followed a State Department announcement the day before that USAID had been ordered out after operating in Russia for two decades.
The U.S. agency had strayed from "the declared goals of assisting the development of bilateral humanitarian cooperation," Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said in a statement posted on the ministry's website. "We are talking about attempts via distributing grants to influence political processes, including elections of various levels and civil society institutions."
The government of President Vladimir Putin had previously accused Western governments of trying to influence the parliamentary elections in December and subsequent protests calling into question the results of that balloting and Putin's own election in March.
One of the first victims of this week's order will be Golos, an independent Russian organization whose monitors reported massive violations during the elections. The group was one of the key recipients of USAID grants.
Source: LA Times, 20 Sept 2012