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

Putin's Game

Lee Smith

All at once, the Democratic party rose up in unison and declared that Moscow is a threat to vital interests....

Continue Reading

Russia Expert: US Politicians Don't Grasp Putin's Corruption

David Satter

On 'Happening Now,' author David Satter issues a warning to presidential candidates and lawmakers...

Watch Now

هل يؤثر فشل الانقلاب بعلاقات واشنطن وأنقرة؟

Samuel Tadros

Sam Tadros on the future of U.S.-Turkish relations following the coup....

Watch Now