American NGOs relocate their Russian staff abroad
MOSCOW, January 30 - RAPSI. The Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) have closed their Russian offices and moved their Russian employees and their families abroad, the Kommersant business newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The NDI and the IRI are non-governmental organizations which promote democracy through seminars held by foreign professionals and by organizing trips for Russian politicians to attend elections in other countries.
The two NGOs closed their Russian offices in late 2012. Senator John McCain, chairman of the IRI, said their decision was a result of the adoption of a tough Russian law, which requires NGOs that receive foreign financing and engage in political activities to register as "foreign agents." McCain believes the law was Russia's response to the Magnitsky Act.
An informed source told the newspaper that the NDI and the IRI not only closed their offices, but also relocated seven Russian employees and their families to Lithuania.
Kommersant cites these employees as saying that their bosses have relocated them for fear of political persecution, including charges of espionage.
The US organizations have yet to comment on these statements.