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Originally published Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 2:37 AM

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Russia lashes out at US over NGO funding

Russia's foreign ministry is criticizing Washington for channeling funds to non-governmental organizations in ways that get around Russian restrictions.

The Associated Press

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MOSCOW —

Russia's foreign ministry is criticizing Washington for channeling funds to non-governmental organizations in ways that get around Russian restrictions.

The complaint Saturday by ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich follows U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland's characterization of recent searches of Russian NGOs as a "witch hunt."

Since President Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin last year, Russia has put strong pressure on NGOs. In December, as part of retaliatory moves against a U.S. law, Russia banned organizations engaged in vaguely defined political activity from receiving funding from U.S. citizens. Earlier, Russia said any purportedly political NGO receiving foreign funding must register as a foreign agent.

Nuland on Thursday said Washington was continuing to fund Russian organizations through unspecified "platforms outside Russia."

Lukashevich called that "barefaced interference in our internal affairs."

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