“An Attempt to Influence Domestic Politics”: The EU Is Ready to Allocate Almost €6 Million for Projects That Will “Develop Democracy” in Russia

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



In 2019 the European Union plans to allocate €5.9 million for supporting “civil society organisations” and also activists “defending” democracy in Russia. This is stated in the new project of the European Commission, the text of which RT has studied. In particular, grantees must be engaged in “strengthening freedom in the Russian media”, and also interacting with a wider audience, “in particular with the youth”. Experts note that various western structures allocate rather serious funds for financing a number of NGOs and media agencies for the purpose of “creating internal opposition”. At the same time, according to political scientists, such projects don’t solve any problems, and the grantees simply “are engaged in subversive activities”.

The EU is ready to allocate €5.9 million for the “development of democracy” in Russia, in particular in such aspects as freedom of assembly and expression of opinion on the Internet. RT examined the conditions of the corresponding grant.

“The global purpose of this call for proposals (a grant competition – ed) is supporting and strengthening the positions of civil society organisations, activists from movements in defence of democracy, and human rights activists dealing with the most important issues in the sphere of human rights and developments of democracy in Russia”

it is specified in the document of the European Commission

Thus, the project entails two lots, the first of which will be aimed at “strengthening the potential of Russian civil society organisations”, especially at the local level. The EU is ready to spend €1.5 million on this.

Meanwhile, another €4.4 million will be allocated for the so-called “strengthening of freedom in the Russian media”, as well as the “freedom of assembly”. According to the document, the organisation that will win this competition will also work on different educational initiatives and lectures and provide a platform for alternative dialogue and debate. In addition, these initiatives can also include cooperation between human rights activists and artists in order to spread these ideas “more creatively and visually”.

“The common goal of lot No. 2 is to promote improvements to the situation in such areas of human rights in Russia as freedom of the media, freedom of expression and information – including on the Internet, freedom of assembly, fighting against torture, the rights of minorities and indigenous people, environmental rights, and also strengthening democratic civil institutions” 

it is said in the description of the European Commission’s project

As is specified in the project, since 1997 the European Union has supported about 400 projects in the field of human rights and democracy in Russia. Thus, in 2017 the European Commission allocated €6 million for “supporting human rights defenders”, and also for involving Russian society in “democratic processes”. It is noteworthy that in 2015 the EU allocated only €2.9 million for such projects.

Meanwhile in 2019 it is planned to “expand the geographical coverage” of projects, for which it is “strongly recommended” to support such activity outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

“The proposed list of working methods must include practical measures for supporting third parties in different regions of the Russian Federation (besides the Moscow and Leningrad regions), including in the remote regions of the country”

it is specified in the document

Every year different western structures allocate rather serious funds for financing a number of NGOs and media outlets in Russia, however often such projects only have a demonstrative character, noted the Deputy Director of the National Institute for the Development of Modern Ideology Igor Shatrov.

“As a rule, the most painful problems for society are chosen, which of course exist in each society, and attention is drawn to them via publications in different media outlets, and the attention of state and non-governmental organisations is attracted to this problem, but this has a vivid demonstrative character, as it as a rule doesn’t solve the problem, but simply focuses attention on its existence” 

stressed the expert in a conversation with RT

According to him, such financing is a way of influencing public opinion in Russia, for which such channels as NGOs and media outlets are used.

“Both the European Union and Western institutions and associations use different methods of influence, such as by creating internal opposition that is then supported through such sources of financing and by openly putting pressure on the authorities, which we observe in other regions”

concluded the expert

Meanwhile the president of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov in a conversation with RT noted that interest in the remote regions of Russia is caused by the aspiration to increase the effectiveness of the projects, using more painful points.

“It is obvious that subjects of external influence must concentrate their main efforts in zones where there are painful points or where there are more favourable opportunities”

emphasised the expert

“Subversive work in Russia”

Meanwhile, as is noted in the grant of the European Commission, the project will also have to attract a wider audience, especially among the younger generation of Russians.

“In order to spread universal human rights values, initiatives without fail must include interaction with a wider audience, especially with the youth”

it is specified in the document

In particular, such values are supposed to be spread via interaction with volunteers, the involvement of public campaigns, and also via interactive content.

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According to Mikhail Remizov, the aspiration of the European Union to expand interaction with the Russian youth within the framework of such projects can be explained by the desire of the EU to influence Russian society in the long term.

“Firstly, those who try to influence Russian society and Russian domestic politics don’t count on this influence leading to a quick result from the point of view of regime change or changing the course of the regime. The work concentrates on the medium and long term. In this regard, it is logical to invest in those generations that will enter an active phase after some time has passed. Secondly, the youth is such a communication medium that is addressable, an anchor for testing marketing, ideological, any other innovations”

reported the expert

“Meeting the interests” of the population of Russia

As is noted in the document of the European Commission, the primary activity of the recipients of grants, in accordance with international law, will be carried out on the territory of Russia. However, different events can be arranged in other countries too if they “meet the interests” of Russian citizens.

“(Under the terms of the competition – ed) activity must be carried out on the territory of the Russian Federation and in accordance with international law. Nevertheless, if a detailed justification is provided separate events can be held in other countries if they are directly connected to events happening in the Russian Federation and also meet the interests of its population”

it is noted in the EC’s grant

In particular, it is specified that different seminars and conferences aimed at strengthening civil society and democracy in Russia can be held in other states.

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In addition, such events can be carried out from abroad if such activity on the territory of the Russian Federation creates a “threat” for the safety of the recipients of a grant.

Such events held by Western countries concerning Russia are seen not for the first time. Thus, earlier it became known that in 2018 the American “National Endowment for Democracy” (NED), which is recognised as an undesirable organisation on the territory of the Russian Federation, will finance at least 19 projects in Russia for the total amount of about $1.5 million. About a third of the allocation was earmarked for initiatives in the sphere of the media.

Meanwhile in November, 2017 the president of Russia Vladimir Putin signed the law on the status of foreign agents in the media. According to the text of the law, media agencies can be recognised as foreign agent is they receive financial aid from foreign states or organisations. Such changes were made to article 6 of the Law “On the Media”.

In July of this year the State Duma Informational Policy Information Technology and Communications Committee also approved amendments, according to which a natural person can be recognised as a foreign agent if they spread the media materials of foreign agents and thus receives financing from abroad. And this concerns not only printed and audio-visual materials, but also publications on the Internet.

“Europe and the collective West stubbornly go in this direction. They consider that this water droplet will put a hole in the stone. They don’t mind handing out this sum for subversive work on the territory of Russia, and this subversive work happens under the cover of such wonderful words as democracy, freedom, and open society”

stated the Director of the international institute of the Newly Established States Aleksey Martynov in a conversation with RT

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