Russia Vs. Wall Street’s NGOs

West’s battle for Russian ‘hearts and minds’: NGOs on steroids (Op-Ed)

Veronika Krasheninnikova

Russia Today

July 13, 2012

The Russian Duma has just passed amendments to the Russian NGO law.

Russian NGOs receiving foreign funding will now have to register at the Ministry of Justice as an “NGO carrying out functions as a foreign agent”,
make public their sources of funding by marking it on the materials
they distribute, and report semi-annually to the Ministry of Justice on
their activities.

This law, a great majority of Russians believe,
is long overdue. In the past 25 years, billions of dollars have been
pouring into Russia from the US State Department and its subsidiary
agencies like the US Agency for International Development (USAID –
nearly $3 billion alone), as well as from so-called “private foundations”
like the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and George
Soros’s Open Society Institute. All of these institutions, judging by
their activities and leadership’s biographies, have important ties to
the US State Department, the intelligence community, Cold War and the “color revolutions”.

goal of all this money was not to express Washington’s generous love of
Russia, its culture or its people. In addition to building a loyal
infrastructure, it aimed at “winning hearts and minds” – and along the
way oil, gas, and military capacity. It has all been about “opening”“open society”, “open economy”, “open Russia”, “open government” – open for brainwashing, economic plunder, for hijacking Russia’s domestic and foreign policies.

Conquest by war is always an option for the US, as we have seen in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria. But “victory without war” is cheaper and more effective, as the collapse of Soviet Union has tragically shown.

What did Western funding do to the Russian civil society while pursuing military objectives by “peaceful means”? Might it have accidentally contributed to building democracy in Russia? The word “democracy”
here is understood in its original sense, as government of the people
for the people, not in Washington’s interpretation as a loyal regime
subservient to US interest.

In fact, the multibillions of Western
funding have profoundly distorted Russian civil society. A marginal
pro-American group of NGOs that was pumped up with US dollars like a
bodybuilder with steroids -it has gained much muscle and shine. Those
few Russians willing to serve foreign interests were provided nice
offices, comfortable salaries, printing presses, training, publicity,
and political and organizing technology which gave them far more
capacity, visibility, and influence that they could possibly have had on
their own. Money and spin are the only means to promote unpopular
ideas, alien to national interests.

On the other side is the
silent majority of people who is squeezed out of the public space. In
Western, and also in Russian media, civil society turns out to be
represented by Ludmila Alekseyeva (The Helsinki Group), Boris Nemtsov
and Gary Kasparov, rather than by a worker from the Urals, teacher from
Novosibirsk or a farmer from Krasnodar Region.

Moreover, Russian
NGOs not addicted to Western funding are put under serious pressure from
Western funders and their local outlets to join the club. Once the
Russian organization shows its effectiveness, its leadership receives a
call from US Embassy, and an invitation to visit. Money offers follow
shortly. If the Russian NGO dares to refuse the bait, one or several
mirror organizations are created that, with massive funding and
publicity, hijack the subject, fill it out with its agenda and occupy
the field.

For projects in education, for example, suddenly it
will be all Anglo-Saxon models and values. For projects fighting abuse
by the police, this fight will be selective and serving to compile
incriminatory evidence on loyal officials designed to create hostility
to the government in general, rather than truly fighting these
intolerable practices. In the field of business associations, one
Russian NGO was denounced by a major US-allied corporation for “excessively defending the rights of domestic producers”. 

Western funding does not contribute to strengthening Russian democracy.
It only extends the battle field for pro-American forces against
patriotic forces. Like steroids, Western funding is injected in the
weaker spots of the targeted civil society. Like steroids, it is
addictive. Like steroids, it corrupts the mind and body of the political
organism. It transforms the target nation into a sick and dependent
collaborating entity deprived of independent will, mind, and heart.

and other countries subject to Western funding infusions must take
charge of their domestic problems. Building a patriotic civil society
cannot be outsourced. Democratic processes and national security cannot
be outsourced – all the more so to openly hostile governments.

NGO amendments, by correcting an evident gap in our laws, take a major
step in leveling the playing field. But this step needs to be followed
by further measures that strengthen our national civil societies.

­Veronika Krasheninnikova, Director General of the Institute for Foreign Policy Research and Initiatives in Moscow, for RT. The statements, views and opinions expressed in this article are
those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.