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USAID in Russia will cease its programs after decision by Russian government

Analysts attributed Russia's decision to end the programs in part to hostility toward US-funded groups that promote democracy and rule of law.

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Vladimir Putin is pictured at the APEC summit on Sept. 7, 2012. On Sept. 17, 2012, the US State Department announced its aid and development agency, USAID, would pull out of the country after a decision by the Russian government. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Agency for International Development will cease operations in Russia after a decision by the Russian government to end the aid agency's programs, the US State Department announced Tuesday.

"We are extremely proud of what USAID has accomplished in Russia over the past two decades, and we will work with our partners and staff to responsibly end or transition USAID’s programs," said Victoria Nuland, the department spokesperson, in the statement.

Reuters reported that analysts attributed Russia's decision to end the programs in part because of "hostility" toward groups that promote democracy and rule of law that have been funded by the US.

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The State Department seemed to address that possible motive in its statement, promising continued involvement with Russian NGOs.

"While USAID’s physical presence in Russia will come to an end, we remain committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and the development of a more robust civil society in Russia and look forward to continuing our cooperation with Russian non-governmental organizations," the statement by Nuland said.

According to the Washington Post, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to Washington last week to notify them of the decision. The Post also noted that Russia recently approved a new law that "requires nonprofits to register as foreign agents if they receive money from outside Russia in order to promote political ends." US-funded groups in Russia said that the law was an attempt to repress their work, according to the Post.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120918/usaid-will-cease-its-work-russia