Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The New York Times reports that President Dmitri A. Medvedev has called for tax incentives and other measures to assist Russia’s beleaguered nonprofit groups, which have come under government pressure in recent years. Mr. Medvedev, promoting policies that he hopes will modernize the country, said in a meeting with human rights advocates that new laws would not alleviate all the problems the groups faced, but that they would certainly help. “Our main goal is the support of the authority of nonprofit groups in society, and the attraction to this sector of more talented people and philanthropic resources,” Mr. Medvedev said. “We need to stimulate philanthropy and create a stimulus or a motivation for volunteers who toil for such organizations.” The government has sought in recent years to establish more control over nonprofit groups, especially those that receive foreign assistance. Mr. Medvedev’s mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, the former president, has at times portrayed the groups as little more than tools that the West uses to meddle in Russia’s affairs. Under Mr. Putin, the groups were subjected to new regulations, as well as increased scrutiny that they have sometimes characterized as harassment. Charities and other nonprofit groups have also not prospered in Russia because there is less of a tradition of giving here. In Soviet times, the Communist Party was supposed to take care of societal needs, so a philanthropic sector barely existed. And current tax regulations do not encourage charitable donations or charitable activity, as they do in many countries, including the United States.