March 30, 2013 - 20:44 AMT
Russian Foreign Ministry slams U.S. for ‘interfering’

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday, March 30 posted a statement on its website slamming the U.S. State Department’s intention to continue funding non-governmental organizations in Russia as “interfering,” RIA Novosti reported.

“We view the declaration made by the official representative of the State Department, Victoria Nuland, that the United States will continue financing individual NGOs within Russia via intermediaries in third countries, bypassing Russian law, as open interference in our internal affairs,” the statement reads.

This statement responds to comments Nuland made during Thursday’s State Department press briefing in which she highlighted U.S. concern that the latest wave of spot-checks on NGOs in Russia was “some kind of witch hunt.” The Russian Foreign Ministry statement singles out the use of that term in particular as “nothing other than cynical and provocative.”

On Thursday, Nuland also said “we are providing funding through platforms outside of Russia for those organizations that continue to want to work with us, understanding that they have to report that work now to their own government.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry criticized Nuland as inciting Russian NGOs and public bodies to violate Russian regulations.

On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin warned the Kremlin’s human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin that the raids should be monitored to ensure there were no “excesses” by the officials carrying out these spot checks.

Earlier this week, Russian NGO Agora, which has provided legal support to numerous political activists and which itself was also subject to a spot check, said that this latest wave of inspections has affected over 80 organizations across Russia.