The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will end its activities in Russia at Kremlin request, after more than 20 years and 2.7 billion dollars, the US State Department said Tuesday, dpa reported.
Washington received an official diplomatic message from the Russian government last week informing the US of Moscow's decision to end the mandate of USAID, State Department spokeswomen Victory Nuland said.
"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," Nuland said.
Nuland said about one-third of the 2.7 billion dollars spent over the last 20 years - since the Russian Federation emerged as one of the 15 post-Soviet independent republics - went toward programmes to support democracy. The rest of the money went toward programmes on health, crime and the environment.
Moscow's decision to halt USAID programmes comes after President Vladimir Putin in July signed legislation compelling nongovernmental organizations that receive money from abroad to register as "foreign agents."
USAID backed programmes to fight AIDS and tuberculosis, help orphans and the disabled and assist in environmental and wildlife protection. Nuland said the US hopes Russia will assume full responsibility for the work so that the Russian people could continue to benefit from the well-established programmes.
Nuland said the United States was "extremely proud" of what USAID accomplished in Russia and while its programmes will officially end, it would "look for ways to continue with those members of Russian civil society who want to continue to work with us."
The agency started working in Russia in 1992, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nuland said whether a country wanted to have USAID assistance was a sovereign decision.
There are more than 20 countries around the world in which the USAID works with civil organizations, without a formal mission.