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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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