MOSCOW, July 22 (UPI) -- The MacArthur Foundation, the prominent American non-governmental organization that has funded educational and human rights projects, announced Wednesday that it will leave Russia because of the government's crackdown on foreign entities.
"The recent passage and implementation of several laws in Russia make it all but impossible for international foundations to operate effectively and support worthy organizations in that country," read the statement by the NGO's president, Julia Stasch. "It is with regret, but with confidence that it is the right decision, that we share the news that the MacArthur Foundation will close its branch office in Moscow."
In late May, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill, which allows authorities to prosecute foreign NGOs or firms designated as "undesirable" on national security grounds. Earlier this month, Russia's upper house of parliament urged authorities to investigate whether groups like the MacArthur Foundation, which has been operating in Russia since 1992, fit the profile as a risk to Russia's national interests.
Soon after Putin re-assumed the presidency in 2012, he approved a law that tightened controls on NGOs funded from abroad. This forced such entities that engage in "political activity" to register as foreign agents.
The MacArthur Foundation underscored on Wednesday that it was "entirely independent of the United States government and receives no funding from it."
Earlier this month, another NGO, the Dynasty Foundation, which aided young and aspiring mathematicians and scientists, announced it was "liquidating its funds." In the past couple of months, Russia's upper chamber had called on authorities to blacklist 12 NGOs, including the Freedom House, and George Soros' Open Society.