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Russia declares German foundation 'undesirable'

April 18, 2024

Moscow has blacklisted the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a free-market think-tank as "undesirable," essentially banning it. The organization said it was a sign of Russia's "threat to civil and human rights."

 A view of the offices of the Russian Justice Ministry behind a metal gate
The Russian Justice Ministry, seen here, issued the order labeling the Friedrich Naumann Foundation 'undesirable'Image: Alexander Scherbak/TASS/picture alliance

The Russian government has all but banned a German free-market think-tank with ties to the Free Democratic Party (FDP), labeling the Friedrich Naumann Foundation "undesirable."

On Thursday, the foundation's board announced that the organization had been blacklisted by the Russian Justice Ministry the day prior.

"For Russians in particular, especially the foundation's long-standing partners, working with an undesirable organization poses a high risk," a statement from the foundation's executive board said.

The statement condemned what members called a Russian threat to "the worldwide, resolute commitment to civil and human rights," and vowed, "We will not be deterred by this and will stick to our mission."

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation joins think tanks tied to Berlin's other ruling coalition partners — the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens — in being banned by the Kremlin in the wake of Moscow's invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022.

A law passed in 2015 mandates that organizations deemed "undesirable" must cease operations in Russia. It also allows Russian authorities to close any offices belonging to them, as well as freezing foundation bank accounts and assets.

Moreover, the designation puts Russian citizens at risk of criminal prosecution should they have contact with such organizations.

Several Russian NGOs have been shuttered, as have the offices of human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Russia has also banned DW and other independent media from broadcasting in the country. 

Russia labels Radio Free Europe ‘undesirable organization

js/sms (AFP, dpa)