U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today released the following statement expressing her disappointment over the Russian government's decision to terminate all USAID programs in the country. Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has worked to promote democracy and human rights in Russia.
"The decision made by the Russian government and President Putin to end USAID activities is deeply concerning for democracy efforts and the future of human rights in Russia. For the past two decades, USAID has played an important role in strengthening civil society and improving the relationship between the United States and Russia. The Putin administration's decision will mean the end of important protection programs and will do nothing but hurt the people of Russia. Though the days ahead will be challenging, the United States stands ready to assist in any way it can to ensure access to this critical support."
Shaheen also voiced disappointment that the U.S. House of Representatives was unable to take up consideration of the Sergei Magnitsky bill on human rights. The Magnitsky bill, which Shaheen cosponsored, would restrict human rights abusers from traveling to the United States or utilizing the American financial system. Shaheen has been a strong advocate for the Magnitsky legislation, chairing a hearing on human rights in December 2011 and delivering a speech on the Senate floor in February 2012.