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

U.S. and Turkey Headed for Showdown

Eric B. Brown

A scenario President Harry S. Truman once feared -- the fall of Turkey to tyranny and outside coercion -- seems near...

Continue Reading

The Putinocracy's Corruption Problem

Walter Russell Mead

But this weekend's protests, impressive as they were, are a long way from constituting a lasting threat to Putin’s power....

Continue Reading

Los Avatares de Erdogan

Jaime Daremblum

Como es ampliamente sabido, Turquía está convulsionada por los planes de su autoritario presidente, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, de realizar un referendo e...

Continue Reading