International Foundation for Civil Liberties

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The International Foundation for Civil Liberties (Russian: Международный фонд гражданских свобод) is a non-profit organization established by the Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky in November 2000.[1][2][3] The foundation is headquartered in New York City and headed by microbiologist, author and activist Alexander Goldfarb.[4][5][6][7] The stated mission of the foundation is "to provide financial, legal, informational and logistical resources to secure human rights and civil liberties in Russia." [8] The first grant of the foundation ($3 million) was given as an endowment for the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Civic Center in Moscow. The grant was accepted by Sakharov's widow Elena Bonner.[9][10] By May 2001, 160 more grants have been awarded by the foundation to NGOs engaged in human rights protection across Russia[11][12] including Committees of Soldiers' Mothers, a major human rights network.[13][14] Among other IFCL projects in Russia, observers noted support of persecuted journalists, legal aid for soldiers persecuted by officers in the Russian army, and funding lawyers to defend child offenders, to save them from being locked up for years in TB-ridden prisons.[15]

As part of its campaign to highlight violations of human rights in Chechnya, jointly with Amnesty International and the International Helsinki Federation, IFCL sponsored screening of documentaries on the Chechen War around the world.[16][17] and took out full-page advertisements in international press criticising the human rights record of president Vladimir Putin.[18] IFCL promoted the film Assassination of Russia, which accused the FSB security service of staging Moscow apartment bombings, which led to the Second Chechen war.[19]

On the eve of the 2006 meeting of G8 Club of industrial nations in St. Petersburg, IFCL launched mocking advertisements depicting Vladimir Putin as Groucho Marx.[20][21] Among their other activities, they paid legal expenses of the Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev in his successful bid against extradition request from Russia.[22] They have been a major sponsor of transcribing the so-called Kuchma tapes—recordings in the office of the Ukrainian president made by Major Mykola Melnychenko[23][24] and contributed at least $21 million to Ukrainian opposition in support of the Orange Revolution.[25] They supported Alexander Litvinenko through a resettlement grant that paid for rent of his two-bedroom apartment in UK.[9] Their director Alex Goldfarb who had arranged Litvinenko’s defection from Moscow in 2000[26] became prominent as a spokesman for Litvinenko after his poisoning and death.[27][28]

After the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, probably authorized by the Kremlin, IFCL seems to have folded down its public activities. The foundation's web site has not been updated since 2006.[29]

Criticism[edit]

Amelia Gentleman quoted acting director of Memorial society Elena Zhimkova concerning the possibility of abusing the fund by its director to resolve "personal issues".[1]

Konstantin Chaplin claimed that Berezovsky sponsored pickets in Voronezh against an organization that, according to Chaplin, protects interests of Russian people, protects historic rights of Eastern Orthodox Church and has merits in state building.[30][31]

An author by initials AIA referred to an article in Komsomolskaya Pravda implying that the Foundation undermines the state of Russia. The article quoted a Moscow State University professor Vladimir Dobrenkov and a political analyst Sergei Markov stating that civil liberty defenders can overthrow the Russian government and thus help Western powers gain access to Russia's raw materials.[32][33]

An article in The Guardian stated that unnamed critics accuse the foundation in "bankroll[ing] widespread opposition to Mr Putin". The article said that some activists refused grants from the foundation while others accepted them.[4]

Mary Jordan and Peter Finn in The Washington Post quote Sergei Markov saying that Berezovsky fought Kremlin to restore his political influence in Russia.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Oligarch hits out at his Kremlin monster" The Guardian 21 December 2000
  2. ^ "Boris Berezovsky". Rusnet Encyclopedia. Rusnet Partners. 2003-09-19. 
  3. ^ "Famous guest speakers". Oxford University Russian Society. 2008–2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Litvinenko poisoning: the main players". The Guardian. 24 November 2006. 
  5. ^ a b Mary Jordan and Peter Finn (December 9, 2006). "Russian Billionaire's Bitter Feud With Putin A Plot Line in Poisoning". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ Carina Waern (December 17, 2007). "Ryska dissidenter". Tidningen Kulturen. 
  7. ^ Stephen Adams (19 Jul 2007). "Key Russian dissidents in London". The Telegraph. 
  8. ^ Фонд гражданских свобод (in Russian). Perm Regional Human Rights Center. 
  9. ^ a b Goldfarb, Alex; Marina Litvinenko. Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1-4165-5165-2. Lay summary (2008-12-28). 
  10. ^ "Berezovsky Donates $3M to Museum" The Moscow Times 01 December 2000
  11. ^ "BEREZOVSKY MAKING MOVES BACK TO POLITICAL SCENE" The St. Petersburg Times May 15, 2001
  12. ^ Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia Europa Publications Limited , Taylor & Francis, 2002 page 549
  13. ^ "Russian Soldiers' Mothers Work Together" Associated Press January 14, 2003
  14. ^ "SOLDIERS' MOTHERS TO FORM PARTY" The St. Petersburg Times, November 9, 2004
  15. ^ "The oligarch's revenge" The Guardian 19 February 2005
  16. ^ "Disillusionment over Chechnya. Journalists say their revelations of brutality in Chechnya have accomplished little" The Baltimore Sun October 5, 2003
  17. ^ http://www.hot.ee/f/festivaal/press_us.htm "Chechnya Film Festival"
  18. ^ "Russian critics blast Putin's record" BBC News 23 September 2003
  19. ^ "Baltic countries broadcast controversial film" The Baltic Times Mar 28, 2002
  20. ^ "Groucho trips up the G8 spin doctors" The Times July 13, 2006
  21. ^ G8 Forbidden Ads
  22. ^ "Tycoon to fund Chechen extradition fight" BBC News3 November 2002
  23. ^ "BEREZOVSKY HOPES TO SELL ORANGE REVOLUTION TO RUSSIA" Jamestown Foundation Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 54March 17, 2005
  24. ^ "BEREZOVSKY THREATENS TO OPEN PANDORA'S BOX CREATED BY FUGITIVE UKRAINIAN BODYGUARD" Jamestown Foundation Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 65 April 3, 2005
  25. ^ Sakwa, Richard (2007). Putin: Russia's choice. Routledge. p. 146. 
  26. ^ Eric Walberg (October 30, 2007). "Poisonous Espionage". 
  27. ^ Sergey Chabanenko (Nov 30, 2006). "Isotope that Killed Litvinenko Sold Freely in U.S.". Kommersant. 
  28. ^ Jonathan Brown (8 December 2006). "Enemies of Putin gather for a burial in exile". The Independent. 
  29. ^ "Интернет-журнал Фонда гражданских свобод" [An internet magazine of Foundation for civil liberties]. Archived from the original on 2006-08-25. 
  30. ^ Konstantin Chaplin (June 27, 2003). Осторожно: правозащитник! – Зачем Березовский спонсировал Молодежное правозащитное движение [Beware: a rights defender! - Why Berezovsky sponsored Youth Rights Defending Movement]. Берег (Bereg) (in Russian) (Voronezh) (26). Archived from the original on 2003-06-27. 
  31. ^ Воронеж: новый скандал вокруг газеты городской администрации (in Russian). Regnum. 12.07.2004.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  32. ^ AIA (December 28, 2006). "Western Secret Serviceman of Putin's Main Rival". Ocnus.Net. 
  33. ^ Olga Vandysheva (December 21, 2004). "Мы - агенты влияния Запада!" [We are the West's agents of influence!].