Seven US-based institutions – the MacArthur, Mott, and Open Society Foundations plus Freedom House, the International Republican and National Democratic Institutes, and the National Endowment for Democracy – are on a preliminary list of 12 non-governmental organizations that could be banned from working in Russia under a new law outlawing ‘undesirable’ organizations. The list will be sent to Russian officials to determine whether they pose a threat to the country.
The list also includes groups such as the Education for Democracy Foundation, a small Polish NGO that has held seminars for teachers, promoted volunteerism, and worked with Russian schools on civic initiatives for 15 years.
Signed into law by Russian president Vladimir V Putin in May, the measure authorizes prosecutors to shut down foreign NGOs that are deemed to be engaged in ‘undesirable’ activity posing a threat to Russia.
Meanwhile, the crackdown on Russian non-profits deemed to be ‘foreign agents’ has led to the closing of the Dynasty Foundation, founded by telecommunications billionaire and philanthropist Dmitry Zimin to support programmes dedicated to the sciences. The board voted unanimously to close after a month-long fight to have the ‘foreign agent’ label removed and being fined $5,000 for having failed to voluntarily register with the government as a foreign agent.
The foundation had given about $7 million annually for more than a decade in support of young Russian researchers and high school science camps. The official reason for the organization being declared a ‘foreign agent’ was its support for Liberal Mission, an organization that holds lectures on modern politics. Zimin used his own bank accounts, located abroad, to fund the organization. Zimin left the country last month and is now in exile abroad, according to media reports in Russia.
Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest, 14 July.
For more information
Luke Harding, ‘Russian science foundation shuts down after being branded “foreign agent”’, Guardian, 8 July.
Statement of MacArthur President Julia Stasch on Developments in Russia’ 7 July
Andrew Roth. ‘Unlikely Targets in Cross Hairs as Russia Aims to Expose Foreign Influence’ New York Times, 11 July