Skip to main content

Russia Says ‘Nyet’ to USAID

David Satter

The decision of the Putin regime to end two decades of work by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Russia reflects its determination to disable the growing protest movement without confronting it directly.

AID’s budget for Russia was $50 million this year, with 60 percent allocated for the promotion of democracy and civil society. Its programs worked to combat the political passivity that has long been the invisible ally of Russian dictators. Some of the money was used to support Golos, Russia’s only independent election-monitoring group, which reported massive falsification in the recent parliamentary and presidential elections. Golos’s reports helped motivate the growing Russian political opposition.

The end of USAID programs in Russia, in combination with a recent law that requires that organizations receiving foreign grants register as foreign agents, now deprives civil society of an important source of support.

During his campaign for a new presidential term, Putin was aided most of all by the fear that his defeat would lead to instability. This tactic was effective because many Russians lack political experience and cannot imagine the possibility of defending their rights. Independent civil-society organizations, by virtue of their existence, demonstrate that politics organized from below, based on free information and without the control of the regime, is possible. This was the reason that as Putin’s position became increasingly unstable the activities of USAID in Russia had to go.

Related Articles

Las Aventuras de Petro

Jaime Daremblum

Resulta que hay graves tensiones entre Ucrania y Rusia. Cada día asoma la amenaza inminente de un conflicto armado, como lo hemos visto a raíz de lo...

Continue Reading

Ukraine Crisis Torpedoes Russia-Japan Rapprochement

Richard Weitz

One of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s main objectives since returning to office has been to improve relations with Russia, a goal also sought ...

Continue Reading

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: A Fading Star?

Richard Weitz

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) stands at a pivotal point in its history. On the one hand, the growing ties between Russia and China as we...

Continue Reading