Two US NGOs withdraw staff from Russia

Moscow, Jan 30 (IANS) Two US non-governmental organisations have ceased work in Russia and withdrawn their personnel, including Russian citizens, Xinhua reported Wednesday.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute have re-deployed seven Russian workers to Lithuania, fearing they could be prosecuted in Russia under a new treason law.

NGO directors Tamerlan Kurbanov and Natalia Budayeva, together with their families, moved to Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

The Kommersant business daily said the two directors had come under the scrutiny of the Russian Federal Security Agency. They asked their head offices to move them out of the country for safety reasons.

The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in July 2012 passed a law that restricted activities of NGOs in Russia.

Russian authorities closed the local bureaus of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Unicef at the end of 2012, Xinhua said.

In another sign of tension in ties between Moscow and Washington, Russia Wednesday terminated a decade-old agreement on cooperation in law enforcement and drug control with the US.

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