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UNICEF To End Russian Operations By End Of Year

Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF representative in Russia, at a February press conference in Moscow
Russia has asked UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, to discontinue its activities in the country by the end of the year.

The Russian Foreign Ministry made the announcement in a statement on October 9, saying Russia's "growing economic and donor potential" allows it to fund its own projects.

UNICEF had sought to negotiate a new operating agreement after Moscow asked the agency in 2009 to gradually pull out of Russia.

The agency has operated in Russia since 1997, when Vladimir Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin was president.

Experts have said that UNICEF's shutdown would deal a serious blow to children's welfare in Russia.

The announcement comes just over a week after the departure of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which Moscow has accused of meddling in Russian politics.

Based on reporting by Interfax and ITAR-TASS