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Russia Considers Altrusim

Published: June 21, 2013 (Issue # 1764)



  • Supporting charity in Russia is often known to be an empty gesture, with most distrustful of the way funds are distributed.
    Photo: Nadezhda Belyaeva / SPT

As Russia is starting to see people of different social classes engage seriously in activities aimed at addressing some of Russias most pressing problems, Russian philanthropy is now finding itself at a turning point, according to participants of a roundtable held Thursday as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The topic of the roundtable was Cultivating the Next Generation of Global Philanthropists.

What we have witnessed is nothing short of a revolution, and I am not exaggerating at all, said Alexei Kudrin, the Dean of the Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the St. Petersburg State University. Kudrin was also Russias former finance minister. I left civil service more than 1 1/2 years ago, and over that period I have been deeply involved in fundraising initiatives both in the regions and in the capital cities. Our funds have almost doubled, and I am genuinely impressed with the enthusiasm of donors.

The issue of philanthropy in Russia is not new to the forum. However, the main difference between Thursdays roundtable and previous discussions is that the focus of the debate has now shifted to sharing the various aspects of entrepreneurs dissatisfaction with state policies in the field of philanthropy mainly concerning the governments failure to create what potential donors would find an acceptable climate for making donations.

Yes, one specific feature of philanthropy in Russia is that not many Russian business people agree that generosity can truly feel good; Rather, many potential philanthropists see their donations as a form of investment they want to use it to promote their businesses or their own image, Kudrin said. Indeed, as with every investment, they want it to pay off. In some cases we see that businesses tend to more keenly invest in improving the infrastructure around their factories, for example, thus benefitting primarily their own employees who live in the area.

While in 2012, Russian entrepreneurs on the panel had been adamant that the government needs to offer incentives for charitable giving a natural reaction perhaps, given that they didnt go into business out of wanting to do good the hot topic this year was the creation of a working scheme that would allow the middle class to be involved in philanthropy.

Russia has recently seen some impressive cases of volunteer activities, including, for example, initiatives in the regions to help the victims of the flood in Krymsk in the summer of 2012, Kudrin said. However, very few schemes exist in Russia that make it easy for ordinary Russians who want to engage in philanthropy, to do so.

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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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