Russia accuses USAID of trying to sway elections

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Sept. 19, 2012, 1:32 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Associated Press

Denise Herbol (C-R), deputy director of the United States Agency for International Development – Iraq (USAID), and Rear Adm. Gregory Smith (L), director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq's Communications Division hold a joint press conference at the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad, 13 January 2008.

Associated Press

Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russia has explained its decision to put an end to the U.S. Agency for International Development's work in Russia by saying the U.S. government agency was using its money to influence elections.

The State Department announced Russia's decision on Tuesday, Sept.18.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that through its grants, USAID was attempting "to influence ... political processes, including elections on various levels, and institutions of civil society."

Nearly 60 percent of the agency's $50 million annual budget went toward the promotion of democracy and civil society in Russia. Some of this money went to support Russia's only independent election monitoring group, which fielded thousands of observers in last winter's parliamentary and presidential elections and compiled reports of vote fraud nationwide.

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