Statement by Human Rights Defenders on Closing of MacArthur Foundation in Russia

23 July 2015

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is closing down its activities in our country. This is a result of the outrageous and xenophobic announcement of a list of ‘hostile organizations’. This list contains worthy and respected foundations and institutions that have made a truly inestimable contribution to the development of our country on the path towards the rule of law and freedom. Today it is precisely the striving towards the rule of law and freedom, towards openness to the world, that again, as in the darkest times of the communist regime, are being presented as some kind of wrecking, diversionary activity, or even as russophobia. 

The MacArthur Foundation for many years has supported the implementation of projects in Russia that have, in the main, been educational in nature. But now obfuscation is in fashion. 

The MacArthur Foundation provided support to human rights defenders, not only in the capital but also in the Russian regions. It was this assistance alone that gave an opportunity to many regional groups to work and to actively develop, thereby helping thousands and thousands of people who otherwise would have been left on their own to face arbitrariness and lawlessness. However, today independent, organized human rights activity is considered at best suspicious, if not ‘anti-state’. 

We give heartfelt thanks to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for its distinguished and generous work in support of  many very important initiatives that gave hope for the possibility of a life that was sound and free, for the development of the rule of law and democratic institutions of government. 

We are ashamed of the flood of despicable slander that has now fallen upon American charitable foundations. 

In the name of the Moscow Helsinki Group, of the movement For Human Rights and of many regional human rights associations. 

Liudmila Alekseeva, Lev Ponomarev