USAID closes offices in Russia 6 replies

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ReLoaD

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#1 5 years ago

This comes after the Russian government's decision to shut down foreign NGOs operating within the country, which they have accused of having their own agenda. USAID appears to be one of these leaving, acknowledging an October 1st deadline to leave.

BBC News - USAID shuts down Russia operation

USAID shuts down Russia operation

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it will close its offices in Russia following an order from the authorities there to cease operations.

The Russian government gave the US until 1 October to close the mission.

USAID has worked in Russia for two decades, spending nearly $3bn (£1.8bn) on democracy and other programmes.

Analysts say the government's antipathy toward pro-democracy organisations may be to blame for the move.

Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin alleged that protests surrounding his re-election were orchestrated by US-funded non-governmental organisations.

In announcing the closure of the USAID office, US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said: "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."

She would not be drawn on the reasons behind the Kremlin's decision, but said there was a sense "that they don't need this any more".

The United States began its operations in Russia after the end of the Soviet Union, spending around $2.7bn (£1.7bn) on a wide range of human rights, civil society, health and environmental programmes.

USAID was due to spend around $50m on its work in Russia this year.

I do not think this will improve Russia's image abroad, or at least the opinion in many western outlets that the country is very "authoritarian". However I can recognize from the government's standpoint the issues of NGOs possibly acting as vectors for foreign influence.

I wonder now though, with these organizations packing up shop and leaving, who will future outbursts against the Russian government be blamed on? Or will they be validated once significant protests stop?




jackoolj

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#2 5 years ago
Commissar MercZ;5661587I do not think this will improve Russia's image abroad, or at least the opinion in many western outlets that the country is very "authoritarian". However I can recognize from the government's standpoint the issues of NGOs possibly acting as vectors for foreign influence

At this point I doubt anything could change that widely-held belief in the West that Putin is Stalin reincarnated and that he wants to restart the Cold War. Over the past few years, and especially sicne Putin's re-election, it seems as though every article or piece of news reported on Russia has played up how Putin has engineered the return of Soviet authoritarianism without analyzing the conditions and reasons why Putin & Co. made these decisions in the first place. There's no examination of the possibility that the allegations made by Russia are true, because... well.. the West has never interfered in the internal politics of a sovereign nation before, right? :rolleyes:

There are a couple of tidbits I found interesting from the article that I felt should be addressed.

USAID has worked in Russia for two decades, spending nearly $3bn (£1.8bn) on democracy and other programmes.

How exactly does one fund "democracy" without interfering or influencing the politics of another country? I doubt that's the intention of USAID and that money was used for election monitoring, but a statement such as that in the article is a tad misleading, and $3 billion is a shit-ton of money to spend on "democracy."

Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin alleged that protests surrounding his re-election were orchestrated by US-funded non-governmental organisations.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if that were true. When Ukraine and Georgia had their little "revolutions" and threw out pro-Russian rulers, it was later shown that Western money had bankrolled the protest movements as well as supported the successful electoral campaigns of pro-Western leaders in those countries.




Kamikazee

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#3 5 years ago

Obviously the US has an interest in a Russia with a compatible ideology. Russia is a big and resource rich country, having them as your enemy while you could have them as your friend is not the preferred option. Political instability in a nation armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons isn't desirable either. If you look at US policies of the past few years you can see that Obama goes out of his way to placate Putin, while shifting his criticism towards China. The Republicans see it the other way around, for them Russia is the enemy and China the potential ally. Europe doesn't really care so long as it can do business with both China and Russia.

Also, it would be foolish to think that Russia isn't spending any money in similar ways. Look how often RT, Putin's version of Fox News, is used as source even on this forum and even by people who should know better.

The unfortunate aspect of Russia's new NGO regulations is that it creates a lopsided situation. Putin will continue to invest heavily in anti-western propaganda, abroad and at home, whereas we are limited to anti-Putin propaganda at home. This is multiplied by the fact that Putin has the advantage of almost total control over his media, whereas we live in free countries where media needs to conform to certain standards in order to be recognized as valid.

Also, the new regulations are cleverly implemented. The effects of Soviet manipulation are still present in a large part of the Russian population, Putin still sees a chance to connect to that in order to limit the western influence of the last 20 years. Hence the rewriting of history or such tricks as forcing NGOs to declare themselves as "foreign agents" (words that have some connotation from Soviet times) in all their publications.

Octovon;5661595 How exactly does one fund "democracy" without interfering or influencing the politics of another country? I doubt that's the intention of USAID and that money was used for election monitoring, but a statement such as that in the article is a tad misleading, and $3 billion is a shit-ton of money to spend on "democracy."

3 billion over 20 years. Not all of the money was used to "fund" democracy. A lot of it was probably spent in the 90s, in order to ease the transition to a private economy (the collapse was severe, but it could have been much worse).




jackoolj

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#4 5 years ago
MrFancypants;56616443 billion over 20 years. Not all of the money was used to "fund" democracy. A lot of it was probably spent in the 90s, in order to ease the transition to a private economy (the collapse was severe, but it could have been much worse).

That is what I assumed, but the wording in the article was rather vague and lacked detail as to how that money was spent. Spending on "democracy" can mean a lot of things.




housman

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#5 5 years ago
Obviously the US has an interest in a Russia with a compatible ideology. Russia is a big and resource rich country, having them as your enemy while you could have them as your friend is not the preferred option. Political instability in a nation armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons isn't desirable either.

Yet funded color revolutions only brought instability, same with any other US/Nato/EU led interventionism.

If you look at US policies of the past few years you can see that Obama goes out of his way to placate Putin, while shifting his criticism towards China. The Republicans see it the other way around, for them Russia is the enemy and China the potential ally. Europe doesn't really care so long as it can do business with both China and Russia.

Obama has hardly done anything, and the "tough guy" image is merely what the republicans think will win over voters(although it's looking more like a rehearsed play just to ensure Obama wins IE one party for two types of voters), if rommni gets into office it will be much the same the puppet show will go on.

The unfortunate aspect of Russia's new NGO regulations is that it creates a lopsided situation. Putin will continue to invest heavily in anti-western propaganda, abroad and at home, whereas we are limited to anti-Putin propaganda at home. This is multiplied by the fact that Putin has the advantage of almost total control over his media, whereas we live in free countries where media needs to conform to certain standards in order to be recognized as valid.

Except the "free" media is controlled and bias just the same, merely well practiced propaganda that's been told longer.

Also, the new regulations are cleverly implemented. The effects of Soviet manipulation are still present in a large part of the Russian population, Putin still sees a chance to connect to that in order to limit the western influence of the last 20 years. Hence the rewriting of history or such tricks as forcing NGOs to declare themselves as "foreign agents" (words that have some connotation from Soviet times) in all their publications.

What should NGO's be referred to then? NGO's always have clever names like democracy endowment, but their aims are never that.




ReLoaD

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#6 5 years ago

*Small correction here, since I wasn't too clear right away, USAID is an IFA rather than NGO, and it is directly funded by the US government. I don't believe USAID fell under the same provisions that the Russian government hit foreign NGOs with, but it is accused of, like the NGOs, influencing internal politics.

I believe the thing in particular the Russian government got on USAID and others about was its activities through Golos, the Russian NGO that was set up for election observing which also released videos and such showing irregularities at polling stations last general election. USAID, aside from its infrastructure and other civil projects, also funded domestic NGOs that fell under the purview of "democratic" groups such as Golos.

As far as the Russian Government is concerned,

The Associated Press: Russia accuses USAID of trying to sway elections

"We are talking about attempts through the issuing of grants to affect the course of political processes, including elections on various levels, and institutions of civil society," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

That being said I doubt the US will completely abandon those groups it is supporting, will probably find other ways to get them the funding they need, particularly those that are reliant on it.




Kamikazee

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#7 5 years ago
Mihail;5661814Yet funded color revolutions only brought instability, same with any other US/Nato/EU led interventionism.

The color revolutions and history of US interventions were a bit more complex than that, but since your point is mostly to discredit anything any western state has ever done I don't see any purpose in discussing this with you.

As for instability - revolution implies a lot of instability. What happened in the "color revolutions" went along with very small degrees of instability. A little bit of instability to topple an authoritarian regime is in the interest of the west. Much worse would be the instability created by an authoritarian regime that runs into trouble. Succession of leadership, coups, that kind of thing. Ultimately, a stable but unfriendly regime is less useful than a transitioning friendly regime. And that is not only the stance of the west, Russia applies the same common sense in its interventions.

Obama has hardly done anything, and the "tough guy" image is merely what the republicans think will win over voters(although it's looking more like a rehearsed play just to ensure Obama wins IE one party for two types of voters), if rommni gets into office it will be much the same the puppet show will go on.

It wouldn't surprise me if your sources don't go into detail when it comes to Obama's policies regarding Russia. Doesn't align well with the narrative that the evil imperialists are out to get you. As for Romney, we can only guess what he'd do, but chances are that he will follow what he laid out ("Russia is enemy number 1"), just like Obama did with China.

Except the "free" media is controlled and bias just the same, merely well practiced propaganda that's been told longer.

List of journalists killed in Russia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Freedom of the press in the Russian Federation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What should NGO's be referred to then? NGO's always have clever names like democracy endowment, but their aims are never that.

NGOs, for example. Or whichever name they chose for themselves.