Russia demanded on Tuesday the U.S. Agency for International Development leave the country after two decades of work, following accusations by President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. agency influenced Russian elections, the Associated Press reported.
The accusations focused on aid money distributed by the agency.
“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 told AP.
The agency current spends $50 million a year to promote democracy and civil society in Russia, 60 percent of which has already been allocated this year, AP reports. The money went to groups like Golos, the county’s independent election monitoring group.
After a December parliament vote, protesters demonstrated in Moscow against Putin. The Russian leader claimed that they were paid by the United States.
A State Department spokesperson defended USAID, saying the agency benefits the country by “fighting AIDS and tuberculosis, helping orphans and victims of trafficking, and improving the protection of wildlife and the environment," writes the AP.