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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Cuts CIS Funds, Criticizes Aid Program

WASHINGTON -- A United States Senate panel has cut U.S. aid to Russia and other former Soviet republics in a signal of dissatisfaction over the way the program is being administered. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, said the aid program -- central to U.S. support for President Boris Yeltsin's economic reform efforts -- had been plagued with problems. "The management of this program has been uncoordinated and short on vision, and the implementation has been no better," the Vermont Democrat said Thursday as the subcommittee drafted a foreign aid bill for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The bill may go to the full Senate next week. The panel cut the aid level to $839 million, down from the $900 million requested by the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton. The House of Representatives has voted to provide $875 million. In addition, the subcommittee approved a proposal to allocate specific aid funds to three republics other than Russia, instead of allowing the administration to decide how to divide them up. Aid to the former Soviet Union -- $2.5 billion in the current year, of which little has been actually spent -- has had strong support in Congress despite stringent budget cuts that have affected many domestic initiatives. However, in recent months the administration of the program has been criticized for inefficiency and for funnelling large sums to consultants instead of directly helping the people of the former Soviet republics. They were reported to have called for a powerful new administrator.