MacArthur Foundation to Close Offices in Russia


The MacArthur Foundation is closing its offices in Russia after more than 20 years of grant-making here, becoming the latest casualty of new restrictions meant to limit the influence of foreign organizations in Russia.

The foundation’s Russian employees and the civil-society organizations that receive its grants would be put at risk if it continued to operate in the country, the foundation said in a statement.

This month, Russian lawmakers published a preliminary list of 12 nongovernmental organizations that could be banned under a law signed in May by President Vladimir V. Putin. The MacArthur Foundation was on the list. The new law gives the Russian authorities power to shut down groups that are deemed to be “undesirable” and to pose a threat to Russia’s security.

The new law and public statements made by Russian lawmakers “make it clear that the Russian government regards MacArthur’s continued presence as unwelcome,” the foundation said.

The group, based in Chicago, has awarded more than $173 million in grants in Russia since 1992. The grants finance activities related to higher education, human rights and limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Responding to accusations that the 12 groups on the Russian blacklist were acting on the American government’s behalf, the foundation said in its statement: “We are entirely independent of the United States government and receive no funding from it. We have never supported political activities or other actions that could reasonably be construed as meeting the definition of ‘undesirable.’ ”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Sabrina Tavernise

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