Russia Science Charity Closes as Lawmakers List Undesirables

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The Dynasty Foundation, created to aid young Russian scientists striving to make a better world, is closing after the state tarred it as a “foreign agent.”

“The fund is closing because there is no possibility to finance it,” Dynasty’s executive director Anna Piotrovskaya said by phone from London after a July 5 board decision. The fund was caught up in a Russia law that targets organizations that receive money from abroad.

Russia is clamping down on civil society after nationwide political protests against Vladimir Putin in 2011 and 2012, the biggest since he was first elected president in 2000. The Kremlin has accused the U.S. and Europe of funding uprisings in former Soviet allies, including Ukraine, through NGOs.

Since 2012, the state has required groups that accept financing from abroad to register as “foreign agents,” subjecting them to harsher regulations. This week, the Federal Council proposed a “patriotic stop list” of foreign NGOs that are perceived as a threat to Russia’s government.

The stop list is “an important part of the witch hunt against critics of the government by creating a climate of hostility, fear, and suspicion,” Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch Russia Program Director, said on the group’s website.

‘Witch Hunt’

Dmitry Zimin, the founder of mobile operator VimpelCom Ltd. as well as Dynasty, decided earlier this year to stop financing, according to Piotrovskaya.

The foreign funding that Dynasty is accused of accepting came from Zimin’s personal bank accounts abroad, Radio Liberty reported. In June, a Russian court fined Dynasty -- which calls itself Russia’s first family fund -- 300,000 rubles for breaking the foreign agent law.

The charity fund planned to allocate 435 million rubles ($7.6 million) in grants to scholars and scientific programs this year. Dynasty will continue working “for a few months” until a court approves its liquidation, Piotrovskaya said.

“No restrictions were placed on the Dynasty Fund,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “The Dynasty Fund could have continued its activity and we regret that the fund’s management decided to close it.”

Patriotic List

The Federation Council, Parliament’s upper chamber, is seeking to build on the foreign agent law with the “patriotic stop list,” which it voted Wednesday to send to Russia’s prosecutor general, Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry.

“It’s unacceptable that this channel be abused by our foreign opponents who openly demand a regime change in Russia, a disruption of its integration plans, etc., who push for containment and destabilization of our country,” the senators wrote in the proposal.

The list seeks to deem 12 organizations, including George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the National Endowment for Democracy and the MacArthur Foundation as “undesirable,” according to the chamber’s website.

“We are hopeful that, upon review, the Prosecutor General will conclude that our activities have always been in compliance with Russian law,” Julia Stasch, president of the MacArthur Foundation, said in a statement. “We do not engage in or support political activities.”

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