On the closure of the MacArthur Foundation office in Moscow

21 July 2015

By Oleg Kozlovsky

Source: Facebook

MacArthur Foundation, after being blacklisted by the higher chamber of Russia's (so-called) parliament, decided to quit the country because "Russian authorities don't want" them. It is not only sad to lose an important international NGO, but also disappointing because they are giving a very bad example to others. 

First, they confuse Russian authorities with the Russian people. The Kremlin certainly doesn't want any activists or NGOs, foreign or local; it is Russian citizens who need them. Are you working to satisfy the illegitimate Russian government or to help the Russian civil society in its uphill battle for freedom, democracy and progress? Why do you base your decisions upon opinion of the autocracy and not opinion of the people who you work for? 

Second, it's too bad MacArthur gave up so easily, without even trying to resist. The "stop list" they were included in doesn't have any immediate legal consequences. They could have continued their work for months or possibly years before they were forced to actually stop operations. And even in this case, you don't need an office and staff in the country to resume operations, as long as there is demand for what you are doing. 

Too bad no lessons were learned from the departure of USAID three years ago. Same defeatism all over.

Photo: Facebook