Two US foundations have pulled out of Russia, citing laws restricting cross-border funding of non-governmental organizations, which identifies foreign funders as ‘foreign agents’.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation were recent named on a list of organizations whose actions the upper house of the Russian parliament recommended designating as ‘undesirable.’
‘These laws, public statements by Russian legislators, and the vote by the Federation Council to include MacArthur on a “patriotic stop-list” of organizations recommended for designation as “undesirable” make it clear that the Russian government regards MacArthur’s continued presence as unwelcome,’ MacArthur’s president Julia Stasch said in a statement.
Under the law, organizations can be deemed undesirable if they present ‘a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defence capability of the country or the security of the state’.
Since 1992, MacArthur has awarded grants worth more than $173 million to further higher education in Russia, advance human rights and limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the foundation said. Currently the foundation is supporting a $300,000 grant for ‘Raising the Level of Civic Involvement in Public Oversight’, another $300,000 for the project, ‘Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms’ to provide training for Russian human rights lawyers.
The Mott Foundation has invested $25 million in Russia to support development of ‘community foundations and other forms of philanthropy so there would be more local resources available for charitable activities that Russian citizens deemed to be important’. For example, a recent $200,000 grant for ‘Civil Initiatives for Public Benefit Support Service,’ helps citizens access and advocate for local public services.
‘Our grantmaking is grounded in one of our founder’s core beliefs — that “every person, always, is in a kind of informal partnership with his community,” said Mott’s Chairman and CEO William S. White in a statement.
The matter is now under review by the country’s prosecutor general and other officials, the statement said.
‘We’re confident that the review process will find no cause for concern,’ White said.