02.07.2010 | Yevhen Bystrytsky

The Mistake of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


According to an official statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MFA], on 29 June Deputy Ministers Ruslan Demchenko and Pavlo Klimkin, on the instruction of the Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, held a series of meetings held a series of meetings with Ambassadors and senior officials of diplomatic missions of the USA, the Russian Federation, Germany and Poland. The parties discussed "issues related to operations in Ukraine of non-governmental, non-profit-making foundations, which are coordinated by the related Embassies".
The statement noted "the contribution made by international non-governmental organizations in the formation and development of democracy, market economy and civic society. Such institutions, as the International Renaissance Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Stefan Batory Foundation and many others, consistently provide substantial assistance to numerous initiatives of social importance at national and regional levels."
The Deputy Ministers stressed to the American, Russian, German and Polish diplomats that related non-governmental organizations should conduct their operations in rigorous compliance with their statutory mandates and Ukraine’s legislation.
In this regard the International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) must draw the Ministry’s attention to the fact that IRF activities are not coordinated (and cannot possibly be coordinated) by any of the above-listed diplomatic missions. It is completely incorrect to include the International Renaissance Foundation in a group of foundations that are allegedly coordinated by one of the above-mentioned embassies.
In accordance to its Statute, IRF is an international charitable organization established in compliance with the Law of Ukraine "On Charity and Charitable Organizations." IRF is at the same time an independent organization, managed solely by Ukrainian citizens who serve as members of the IRF Board and its administrative apparatus. All decisions related to disbursement of funds provided to the IRF by its founder and other donors, are taken solely and independently by citizens of Ukraine - members of the IRF Board, Programme/Expert Committees and IRF Administration.
Absolutely all qualitative and quantitative information about decisions related to charity assistance (grants) provided to non-governmental organizations, other organizations and institutions of Ukraine, as well as information on IRF operational projects and IRF international audit reports are on open access and available to the general public. They can be found on the IRF web site, regular publications in the central print media and IRF end-of-year reports.
We are forced to point out this mistake to the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since IRF has already been the target of a political witch hunt organized by representatives of the relevant political forces in 2003-2004, which ended in failure.
We are also familiar with the practice of curtailment of democratic freedoms and civil rights in some post-communist countries, where the authorities first made similar notices about "rigorous compliance with statutory mandates and legislation," and then follow them with charges of "rigorous incompliance" with regulatory norms, with this being finally used to officially close down the foreign foundations and programmes.
We would hope that the reference to the IRF in the above-mentioned context by MFA officials was merely a regrettable mistake.
Yevhen Bystrytsky
IRF Executive Director

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