Promoting Democracy:

Progress Report on U.S. Democratic Development Assistance to Russia

NSIAD-96-40: Published: Feb 29, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 29, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S.-funded democracy programs of the Agency for International Development (AID), U.S. Information Agency (USIA), Department of State, and the Department of Defense, focusing on whether democracy programs in Russia were meeting their developmental goals and contributing to political reform from fiscal years 1990 through 1994.

GAO found that: (1) U.S.-funded democracy projects have demonstrated support for and contributed to Russia's democracy movement; (2) organizations and institutions at the center of the democratic reform process have been identified and supported, as have thousands of Russian activists working at these organizations at the national, regional, and local levels; (3) those assisted include prodemocracy political activists and political parties, proreform trade unions, court systems, legal academies, officials throughout the government, and members of the media; (4) the democracy projects that GAO reviewed, however, had mixed results in meeting their stated developmental objectives; (5) Russian reformers and others saw U.S. democracy assistance as generally valuable, but in only three of the six areas GAO reviewed did projects contribute to significant changes in Russia's political, legal, or social system; (6) AID and USIA media projects largely met their objective of increasing the quality and self-sufficiency of nongovernment or independent media organizations, although the weak economy continues to threaten the sustainability of an independent media; (7) U.S. efforts to help develop a democratic trade union movement and improve Russia's electoral system also contributed to systemic changes, although more needs to be done; (8) however, projects in the areas of political party development, rule of law, and civil-military relations have had limited impact; (9) GAO's analysis indicated that the most important factors determining project impact were Russian economic and political conditions; (10) project implementation problems contributed to the limited results achieved from the rule of law project; and (11) State and AID officials acknowledged that democratic reforms in Russia may take longer to achieve than they initially anticipated.

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