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Russian-American relations boosted by US-offered grants

obama putin

by Joseph Earnest  July 17, 2013


Newscast Media WASHINGTONThe US State Department is inviting applications for grants of up to $100,000 to help Russian and American organizations launch programs to boost ties between the two countries.

The US-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program, which was announced last week, will provide grants to fund projects pitched by non-commercial entities that promote "greater interaction and understanding between our two societies," the State Department application form for the grants says.

Scientific groups, student associations, academic collaborators and other non-commercial groups from the United States and Russia are invited to apply for the grants by the August 12 deadline.

Applicants are "encouraged to incorporate innovative ways to foster interaction including the use of social media, video conferencing, short-term academic exchanges, and internships," and are given one caveat: no political projects.

A controversial law that went into effect in Russia in November requires Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive foreign funding and are engaged in political activity to register as foreign agents.

Since the law took effect, Russian prosecutors have searched the offices of as many as 2,000 NGOs across the country, while 36 groups have had legal action brought against them, according to Agora, an NGO that provides legal assistance to other NGOs and is itself one of the 36.

Election monitor Golos was the first Russian NGO to be penalized under the law when it was slapped in April with a fine of 300,000 rubles (about $10,000).

The State Department did not respond to a request from RIA Novosti for comment about the possibility that organizations in Russia might be in violation of the law if they accept a US government grant.

The grants were announced as the United States and Russia grapple with issues that have driven a wedge between the two countries, including how to end the civil war in Syria and what to do with former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who, after spending nearly a month in the transit zone of a Moscow airport, has applied for asylum in Russia.    Add Comments>>

Source: RIA Novosti








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