The Foundation for Democracy in Russia (FDR) is a US-based non-profit organization (501c3) supporting civil liberties and democratic freedom in Russia. FDR directly supports the activities of The Other Russia, a coalition of Russian political parties, human rights organizations, and pro-democracy activists. The Other Russia was founded in 2007 by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who has become one of the leading voices for civil rights, free media, and fair elections in Russia.
This is a critical moment for the present and future of Russia. With President Vladimir Putin scheduled to step down in 2008, the corrupt and anti-democratic structure he has established in the Kremlin is showing strain. The Putin regime is increasing its crackdown against opposition across the country.
The Other Russia organizes protest activities and by democratic means has selected a unified candidate to represent the opposition forces. We must be prepared to function as a viable political organization and to take to the streets if the Putin regime refuses to recognize the people’s will. It is urgent to support and expand our grassroots activities across the country now.
1. Web presence and communication infrastructure. To disseminate first-hand news of what is really happening inside Russia to a worldwide audience. The website will become the primary source of Russian political news in English. The editors will also send regular press releases to the media and our expanding list of key contacts in politics and the financial world.
2. Legal defense fund. With the increasing crackdown by the Putin administration on any and all forms of opposition, 24/7 legal defense in Russia is vital. We do not expect to win every case, but it forces the regime to expend resources and also to realize that there will be resistance. By so doing the Russian government must spread its repressive resources thinner, building tension inside the regime and bringing attention to these harassment cases. Legal defense also lets our volunteer activists know we will do everything we can to protect them. They are risking assault, arrest, and worse and we cannot abandon them. Secondly, Lawyers must be compensated. Many who work with us and other opposition and human rights groups lose their jobs or are otherwise persecuted. The government maintains a blacklist of people who work with the opposition so we must be able to pay them adequately for their efforts.
3. Assistance/help fund. Many activists and their families have lost their jobs, their health, and their freedom by in some way clashing the Putin regime and its many corporate tentacles. FDR aims to provide these people, including political prisoners, direct financial aid as well as medical care, food, and clothing. A small amount can have a huge impact and also generate a great deal of grassroots goodwill toward the opposition movement.
4. Regional activism support. The Other Russia finances opposition activities across the country. Money goes to regional activism in resisting the administration and hosting awareness-raising events. Instead of holding assets and hosting events only in the major cities, funds will quickly be dispersed to citizen groups for small projects in areas like environmental damages, illegal construction, damaged schools and hospitals, official abuses, and hundreds of other examples of mistreatment and neglect by federal, state, and regional government officials. The supported projects will not be political in nature. No campaigning or ideologically-based activities. The Other Russia will provide funds with no strings attached, moving quickly to help those in maximum need. Regional activists can also perform the essential task of collecting signatures and doing other campaign-related work. These local grants will range in size from $2-5,000 with virtually unlimited opportunities to assist. If the local KBG harasses these organizers, they will be politicizing them and drawing even more attention to the cause. The effect will be like a thousand tiny fires the regime is unable to put out without fanning the flames. Every funded activity, every recipient, will be documented and promoted for full accountability.
5. Special projects. For example, the Anna Politkovskaya Award. To preserve the memory and ideals of our beloved colleague. To be presented annually to the bravest journalists from the former Soviet Union. To those who live up to her standards of investigation and fearlessly speaking truth to power. With the technical participation of some of the world’s leading media outlets. (Early positive responses from the Financial Times, Washington Post, and The New Yorker.)
Visits and foreign exchange. Educating the world about the current situation in Russia by organizing visits from media other interested parties from democratic countries to the Russian regions. Sending our Russian activists abroad to become familiar with democratic ways and to receive training in grassroots organization and activism.