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Russia blocks Goethe-Institut bank accounts

Dmytro Hubenko | Vladimir Esipov
March 31, 2023

The accounts of the German cultural organization Goethe-Institut have been blocked in Russia. Russian Foreign Ministry had previously threatened countermeasures after Germany froze accounts of "Russian House" in Berlin.

Goethe-Institut Logo
Goethe-Institut is the Germany's main organization for promoting cultural policy abroadImage: Martin Müller/IMAGO

The accounts of Germany's Goethe-Institut have been frozen in Russia, the German Foreign Ministry said on Friday, following a threat by Moscow to retaliate against measures taken to curb its own cultural institute in Berlin.

"I can confirm that the accounts of the Goethe-Institut in Russia have been blocked," the ministry spokesperson said at a regular government conference.

The Goethe-Institut's press officer Katrin Figge told DW that the bank accounts of the cultural institution in Russia had been blocked at the request of the Central Bank of Russia.

"We are currently examining the situation and are working hard to find a quick solution so that language courses and exam participants can continue to take advantage of our offers. Enrollments for the upcoming trimester continue," she added.

According to Figge, some 200 employees currently work for Goethe-Institut in Russia.

The Goethe-Institut - 70 Years of Cultural Exchange

Tit-for-tat move

In January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova threatened reciprocal measures after Germany froze the accounts of Russky Dom, or "Russian House", and Berlin prosecutors launched an investigation into the organization.

The Russian cultural promotion organization is part of a government agency subject to European Union sanctions.

Zakharova said at the time that "reciprocal measures against subsidiaries of the Goethe-Institut in Moscow, St Petersburg and Novosibirsk will be forthcoming, unless the situation around the Russian House of Science and Culture in Berlin is normalized."

The Goethe-Institut was created in 1951. It is partially funded by the German Foreign Ministry and is the country's main organization for promoting cultural policy abroad. It has locations in 98 countries, where it offers German language courses and cultural events.

On its website, the Goethe Institute says: "We do not break off democratic dialogue, even in difficult times. In our work we orientate ourselves towards the values of a democratic, liberal society governed by the rule of law."

The Reuters news agency contributed to this report.

Edited by: Jenipher Camino Gonzalez

Dmytro Hubenko Dmytro covers stories in DW's newsroom from around the world with a particular focus on Ukraine.