Since taking office last year, President Dmitri Medvedev has sought to support Russia’s embryonic nonprofit sector in the form of tax incentives and other legislation. “Our main goal is the support of the authority of nonprofit groups in society, and the attraction to this sector of more talented people and philanthropic resources,” he said. “We need to stimulate philanthropy and create a stimulus or a motivation for volunteers who toil for such organizations.” This is a reversal of Vladimir Putin’s harsh regulation and scrutiny of non-governmental organizations that according to some bordered on harassment. The former president often criticized nonprofits as being too influenced by Western politics.
As it stands now, tax regulations do little to encourage giving, nor does a tradition based on communism, in which all aid was expected to be government-provided. Though Medvedev’s new legislation is a sign of progress, many leaders of Russian nonprofits report that change has been, and continues to be, a very slow process.