Statement on the ban of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Russia
Today, the Russian Ministry of Justice has revoked the registration of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, as well as that of other German political foundations and international organisations, thus peremptorily banning the activities of these foundations in Russia.
For us, this marks the end of 30 years of dedicated work in Russia – at least for now. During these three decades we have established a tightly-knit network of partners within Russian civil society and, together with them, we have reappraised recent European history, addressed environmental and climate policy issues, promoted independent social research, and campaigned for equal rights for women and disadvantaged groups. In concert with our partners, we have stuck to the vision of a free and democratic Russia – a Russia living in peace with its neighbours and a country ready to become part of a "common European house." Dialogue and understanding between Russian and German / European actors has been at the core of our activities.
Sadly, under President Putin, Russia‛s leadership has for years steered in the opposite direction. Over the last ten years or more, the work of independent media and research institutes has been obstructed and, increasingly, non-partisan civil society organisations are being harassed and denounced as "foreign agents." Russia‛s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, which we and our partners are condemning outright, has demonstrated even to the last remaining doubters the nexus between unfettered internal repression and unrestrained external aggression.
Thus, the present decision of the Russian authorities comes as no surprise. Ever since four German non-governmental organisations were banned last year and since our most important and oldest partner, Memorial, was outlawed in December 2021, for us too, a ban has been looming. As such a ban comes with the threat of severe sanctions against Russian citizens, we have taken adequate measures to protect our partners and co-workers.
By outlawing the activities of a German political foundation, the Russian leadership is purposefully trying to cut off an important and independent channel of communication between our two societies. As a consequence, we will also be unable to address and tackle other important issues such as climate change and how to mitigate it, the green transformation of our economies, or the future of our urban centres. We deeply regret that the Russian leadership has decided to take this further step of escalation.
We ourselves will do whatever is possible to keep the dialogues going. We will stay in touch with all of those who, through their courageous, unwavering and staunch efforts, are trying to transform Russia into a different, peaceful and democratic country.
On behalf of all of the Heinrich Böll Foundation
Ellen Ueberschär, Imme Scholz, Antonie Nord, Walter Kaufmann, Stefanie Harter
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Michael Alvarez Kalverkamp
phone +49 (0)30 285 34-202