Russia scraps anti-crime deal with the US
Moscow: Russia pulled out of an anti-crime accord with the United States on Thursday, the latest sign of rising tensions between Moscow and Washington.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order to scrap the 10-year-old agreement "because it was no longer relevant," his office said.
The agreement covered fighting terrorism, corruption and cross-border crimes such as drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Alexei Pushkov, head of Russia's parliamentary foreign affairs committee, told the Interfax news agency that the decision reflected Russia's ability to manage its internal affairs without outside help.
A US embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The agreement is just one of several bilateral cooperation deals that Moscow has decided to abandon. Last year, Russia expelled the US International Development Agency and also warned it wouldn't extend the Nunn-Lugar program helping it dismantle nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons stockpiles.
On Friday, the US withdrew from a joint civil society working group.
President Barack Obama's efforts to "reset" relations with Russia has met a markedly colder wind from the Kremlin since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in May. Faced with unprecedented street protests against his 12-year rule, Putin accused the US State Department of staging the protests in order to weaken Russia.
After Putin's inauguration, the Kremlin-controlled parliament then quickly rubber-stamped a series of laws imposing new restrictions on civil society in an apparent bid to curb American influence in Russia. Non-governmental organizations funded from abroad were required to register as "foreign agents," a term intended to ruin their credibility among Russians for whom the term sounds synonymous to spies.
The Russian definition of treason was also expanded to include potentially any contact with a foreign organisation.
Two US-based NGOs have closed their Russian offices in response to the new laws. The business daily Kommersant reported today that the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which ran democratic and civil society programmes, moved their staff to Lithuania after Russian security officials threatened to prosecute them under the new treason law.
Amnesty International Russia director Sergei Nikitin wrote on his blog today that the closures "show the stability of the general trend: the pressure on civil society in Russia continues."