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U.S. NGO Denies It Relocated Russia Staff Because Of Possible Persecution

The U.S. nongovernmental organization International Republic Institute (IRI) is denying a Russian media report saying it has relocated its staff from Russia for fear of persecution.

The Russian daily "Kommersant" cited employees from IRI and another Washington-based group, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), as making the allegation.

But IRI called the media accounts "overblown," telling RFE/RL on January 30 that its staff was not harassed or under threat.

IRI said it relocated its staff in Eastern Europe a month ago after Moscow forced the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to end its work in the country.

Moscow has accused USAID, which IRI gets funding from, of meddling in Russian politics.

NDI told RFE/RL its staff members moved to Lithuania temporarily in October for the same reason.