MOSCOW, November 26 - RAPSI. The Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) is seeking sponsorship from Russian citizens so that it can continue working, reads an announcement on their website.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a major foreign sponsor of Russian non-profit organizations, stopped operating in Russia in October. USAID worked to support civil society, democracy and human rights in Russia. MHG was one of the organizations it funded.

The Department of State claimed that during its 20 years of work in Russia, the agency had spent around $2.7 billion on various programs, with a third aimed at the development of democracy.

Russia ordered USAID to cease its activities in the country starting October 1, claiming that the agency allegedly "tried to influence the political process in the country through its financial grants."

MHG is an NGO and a member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF). Its statutory objective is to assist the accomplishment of humanitarian articles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well all Russias other international legal obligations concerning human rights.

MHG (also known as the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, the Public Group to Assist the Implementation of the Helsinki Accords in the USSR and Moscow Group "Helsinki") is Russias oldest non-governmental human rights organization. It was established on May 12, 1976.