Interfax: External funding of foreign NGOs in Russia grows to 7.1 bln rubles within less than year, while their number reduces by 10% – report

Federation Council file photo

MOSCOW. March 5 (Interfax) – The external funding of foreign NGOs operating in Russia has grown to more than 7 billion rubles in less than a year, the Federation Council’s commission for counteracting foreign interference in Russian affairs said in a special report presented on Monday.

“In 2015, Russian socio-political NGOs received 80 billion rubles from the United States alone […] The volume of external funding of Russian branches of foreign NGOs stood at 4.2 billion rubles in 2016. The number of branches of NGOs fell by 10% in 2017, but their funding increased drastically, to 7.1 billion rubles in less than a year,” the commission said.

“The rapidly increasing inflow of cash, which looked like an act of external political bribery, was stopped by the government’s measures (the law designating Russian NGOs engaged in political activity and sponsored from abroad as foreign agents),” it said.

“Seeking to circumvent the new restrictive legislation, foreign centers are frequently using ‘semi-legal methods’ to finance the Russian entities they patronize (including large cash payments and money transfers to individuals),” the commission said.

“On the other hand, the funding of Russian branches of foreign NGOs has become more intense. Most funds are assigned to seemingly unassociated Russian entities and individuals, instead of Russian branches of foreign NGOs (a recent trend in connection with the protective measures of the government),” the commission said. “The volume of such funding is much greater than the maximum allowable amount of the campaign fund of a Russian presidential candidate and comparable with the amount of federal allocations for the national election,” the commission said.