On April 8, 2022, Russia's Ministry of Justice removed a number of international organizations, including all party-affiliated German foundations, from the register of foreign non-governmental organizations. This means that the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung must cease its activities in Russia.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's work in the then Soviet Union began in 1989, even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, with Mikhail Gorbachev's invitation to open an office in Moscow and with the hope of bringing the two political blocs closer together. We have remained true to the mission of promoting dialogue and mutual understanding between our countries and societies ever since. Over three decades, this has enabled many people to enter into direct exchange, discuss with each other, plan joint projects and learn from each other. Even though on the political level estrangements visibly increased in the recent past, on the civil society level many relations remained.
Russia's war in Ukraine has not only stalled the dialogue between our societies, it is increasingly alienating them. Current Russian policy does not allow for differentiation; it knows only friend or foe. Nuances, shades and differences that make up a society and also the relations between our societies have no place in the current interstate relations. The registration withdrawal by the Russian government is not merely a political reaction. It is a desire for as complete a break as possible, an end to dialogue. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is appalled by this and strongly condemns this spiral of escalation.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung believes in dialogue within and between societies if we want to live in peace in Europe. With the withdrawal of our registration by the Ministry of Justice, we cannot continue our work in Russia, but our work on Russia will continue.
Martin Schulz (President of the FES) and Sabine Fandrych (Secretary General)
Berlin, April 10, 2022