The Russian daily “Kommersant” cited employees from IRI and another Washington-based group, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), as making the allegation.
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.
Whatever the immediate reason, Amnesty International Russia’s director, Sergei Nikitin, wrote on his blog that the closures “show the stability of the general trend: the pressure on civil society in Russia continues.”
NDI and IRI are two of the National Endowment for Democracy’s core institutes.