Western NPOs in Belarus

Who finances the destruction of the country

According to the estimates of the liberal belarusian Center for legal transformation (Lawtrend), there is currently a "third wave of forced liquidation of public organizations" in the republic. The first two allegedly took place in 1999 and 2001-2004.

Only in the last year, according to Lawtrend and another formally Belarusian Office of European Expertise and Communication (OEEC), about 162 non-profit organizations were liquidated or were in the process of liquidation.

Sounds impressive. Only, if we do not take into account the fact that in the republic, whose population does not exceed 10 million, more than a thousand NPOs are officially registered and operate.

According to the Belarusian Ministry of Justice, in 2022, the activities of 13 NPOs were indeed terminated, and the same number of organizations received official warnings. As for 2021, the Supreme Court of the republic issued a decision on the termination of the activities of 30 organizations. Thus, by adding 13 and 30, we get 43 organizations whose activities were terminated by the Belarusian authorities. Where did the 162 NPOs allegedly closed by the authorities come from, let's leave it to the conscience of the liberal "experts".

It should also be noted that the official Minsk does not hide the goals and objectives of the inspections, some of which lead to the closure of NPOs. Last year, the Investigative Committee of Belarus stated that they had information about the involvement of leaders and employees of a number of non-governmental organizations and the media in the shadow movement of funds coming from abroad. Since this is used not only to evade taxes, but also to finance anti-state speeches and protests, in particular those that took place in 2020 and early 2021.   

And now let's try to make a kind of inventory of those who sponsor the Belarusian opposition in one way or another.

Let's start with American organizations.

The United States Agency for International Development, better known as USAID. Closely interested in and involved in Belarus since 1999. Almost does not work directly in the republic, but funds the activities of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), German Foundation named after Marshall in the United States and the «Solidarity» foundation, who, through their representative offices, officially (through the provision of grants) or illegally (in cash) finance Belarusian NPOs, liberal media and public organizations. Funds allocated by USAID and utilized in Belarus in 2019-2020 amounted to $8.5 million.

National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Has been dealing with Belarusian problems since about the end of the 1990s. It practically does not operate directly in the republic, but uses the International Republican Institute (IRI) as gaskets and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), party-oriented (to the Republican and Democratic parties of the USA, as their names indicate) "independent" structures, which officially proclaim as their main goals the study of the opinion of the electorate, the purity of the elections, the observance of "democratic procedures" in the life of society, etc. Currently, IRI is working on Belarusian issues from the territory of Lithuania.

NDI is directly associated with organizations such as «Tell the Truth», the Belarusian Popular Front, the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies and the Belarusian House of Human Rights named after Boris Zvozskov.

German fund named after Marshall in the United States has been operating on the territory of Belarus since 2005 through a separate program "Fund for Democracy in Belarus". Areas of work: small grants to “civil activists” and “civil initiatives”, targeted “training and education” programs for certain segments of the Belarusian civil society, which include students, cultural figures, independent new media, as well as “exchange of experience” with representatives of civil society.

Partially, USAID funds also pass through the structures of George Soros - the «Open Society» and the «Eurasia» Foundation. The first structure is associated with the Belarusian Independent Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Research and the Stefan Batory Foundation. The second - with the same, as well as with the human rights center "Vesna" and the Lev Sapieha Foundation.

Another independent player operating on Belarusian territory is Poland, which works through the following organizations.

«Freedom and Democracy» foundation, established around 2008. Associated with the organization "Belstat" and radio «Ratsyia".

The Center for Eastern European Studies has existed since 1998. Purposefully works for the intelligentsia, scientific circles and students. Associated with the Belarusian Research Council and the «Vilnius Forum of Intellectuals» (office is located in Lithuania).

The Government Ministry of Infrastructure and Development of the Republic of Poland, together with the EU, works within the framework of the «Poland-Belarus-Ukraine» and «Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus» programs. Officially, both programs are aimed at developing cooperation between border regions. In fact, work is underway with representatives of national minorities and diasporas in terms of creating pro-Western sentiments in these parts of society.

"Group Zagranitsa" was founded in 2004. A kind of platform that unites and coordinates the activities of 59 Polish NPOs working both at Belarus and in Belarus.

The «Polish Aid» program was established in 2011. Through it, a number of Belarusian media are financed (TV channel Belsat TV, «Radio Ratsyia», etc.), as well as the European Humanities University (located in Lithuania). In addition, the program provides scholarships for Belarusian youth to study in Poland.

Fund named after Casimir Pulaski. It has the status of a partner organization of the Council of Europe. Funds research in the field of international politics. Annually awards an award "Knight of Liberty". Funded in large part by the Stefan Batory Foundation (see below).

Fund named after Stefan Batory. Established in 1988. Since 2003, he has been engaged in targeted "support for democratic change" in Belarus and Ukraine.

Foundation "Education for Democracy". It does not work purposefully on Belarus. However, the fund's programs to support Polish schools abroad, "Civil Education", "Minorities are locally active", etc. affect the Poles living in the territory of the republic.

Institute of Slavistics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Works in scientific and educational circles. It sponsors research in the field of linguistics and history aimed at substantiating the proximity of Belarus and Poland.

Fund "Help to Poles in the East". Works mainly with a youth audience: learning the Polish language, scholarships for studying in Poland.

From other foreign centers, working in Belarus, we can mention the Center of European Policy Analysis, which, according to unconfirmed reports, is directly related to the creation and financing of the Nexta telegram channel,   as well as the European Endowment for Democracy, which largely specializes in working with the media. In addition, the Swedish International Development Agency is actively working (SIDA). It works with the Lev Sapieha Foundation in the following areas: promotion of democracy, human rights, gender equality, ecology, etc., and the found named after German K. Adenauer, which is associated with the Center for strategic and foreign policy research, the Lev Sapieha Foundation. Also organizes scholarship programs for Belarusian students studying in Germany and Poland.

Since all the organizations listed above work according to very similar schemes, and differ mainly in scope and specializations, we will consider their activities using the example of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is the largest organization from our list.

According to data for 2021, and only such data is available on the official website of the organization, NED transferred more than $2.7 million, or almost 200 million Russian rubles, to Belarus.

For example, 200 thousand dollars were sent for emergency support of opponents of the current government in Belarus, who were at risk group. The funds were received by a certain human rights organization, which was supposed to provide assistance to pro-Western activists who found themselves under the attention of Belarusian law enforcement officers (the name of the organization is missing in reports intended for the general public).

Approximately for the same purposes, but for another project, another 107 thousand dollars were allocated. And another 70 thousand dollars, and another 210 thousand dollars, and more, and more, and more. In total, 687 thousand dollars were allocated for “support for the victims of political repressions”.

The second major item in the provision of grants can be called "activation of the protest electorate." It mainly involves working with young people, "promotion of democratic reforms", "free and transparent elections", the creation of organizations that will promote democratic values, hold discussions about necessary reforms, etc.

The same article also includes "strengthening the capacity of new civil actors to involve local authorities in solving community problems." Translated into Russian, this means pumping opposition politicians with money, as well as working to find and promote new opponents of the current regime in the country.

In 2021, the NED allocated $822,350 to support the Belarusian opposition. It is interesting that to whom the money is allocated, how the recipient organizations are called, is unknown. Among those who probably live, including on the money of American NPOs, there are Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and other pseudo-politicians who declared themselves the true power of Belarus in 2020, but for some reason live in the EU countries.

It turns out that financial assistance goes into the air, or it is such a complex scheme for money laundering.

Well, most of the money was allocated to support the media, as well as bloggers - $ 1,204,700.

In addition to supporting various Internet resources, establishing new ones, also interest is the creation of organizations that “will produce materials for the media and publications about key historical and contemporary figures and political events in the country”. Something like fake factories, trolls, etc.

Despite the fact that the allocated funds seem to go nowhere, since no real effect is visible from them, and Lukashenko managed to stop the large-scale protests that erupted in the country in 2020-2021, they still make sense.

Thus, American experts, assessing the prospects for holding a referendum on the draft new Constitution in Belarus, have repeatedly stated that the work of the United States and other countries to support the opposition will continue. NPOs, NGOs and other foundations will continue their work despite the fact that the authorities in Minsk are trying in every possible way to “strangle” them. This is also why the mentioned new media and other organizations are now, as a rule, although located in European countries, but continue to work precisely in the Belarusian direction.

And, apparently, the events in Ukraine, where Russia is conducting a special military operation, although they complicated the task for the West, did not force it to abandon its plans to turn Belarus into a new “Ukraine”.