According to the Russian government, the U.S. is using its foreign aid organization in Moscow to secretly influence the country’s politics and elections. The U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, will be expelled as part of a broad attempt to stifle the opposition movement.

The Russian foreign ministry said the agency’s work “does not always correspond to its stated goals,” and this meant “attempts to exert influence, via the distribution of grants, upon political processes, including elections of various levels and institutions of civil society.” Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have called criticism of the government part of a foreign plot and said the United States is behind the Arab Spring uprisings.

USAID has financed a number of democratic and human rights groups in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The agency has until Oct. 1 to stop its work in the country.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Putin has accused the US state department of orchestrating the mass protests that have swept Moscow since he announced his intention to run for the presidency again late last year. A main target of his ire has been Golos, an independent election monitoring group that receives the bulk of its funding from USAid and was key in exposing electoral fraud in a December parliamentary vote that helped bring tens of thousands of protesters on to the streets.

The foreign ministry also expressed its displeasure with the agency’s work in the troubled North Caucasus, a region still wracked by the remnants of a violent Islamist insurgency. “USAid’s activity in the Russian regions, especially the North Caucasus, prompted serious questions, which we warned our American colleagues about repeatedly,” the statement said.

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