How to become an inagent: RT first discovered foreign funding of "Medusa"
The sources of funding for Medusa, which until then had been kept secret, were discovered when the financial statements of the publication were scrutinized. Among the sponsors of the opposition media were two Western organizations, which at one time were partners of George Soros. One of them also financed the project of Pussy Riot participants and Russian LGBT communities. Information on the concluded agreements is contained in the financial statements of the Latvian company Medusa Project SIA for 2017. The documents were reviewed by RT. According to the deputies of the State Duma, on the basis of these documents, Medusa can be recognized as a foreign agent. In turn, the independent auditors raise serious doubts about the future of the company.
The Internet edition of Medusa, founded by former head of Lenta.ru Galina Timchenko, received grants from two Western organizations, the OAK Foundation and the government agency SIDA. Information on the conclusion of the relevant contracts is contained in the financial statements of the company Medusa Project SIA for 2017.
"Funds allocated in 2017 for these grants, partially absorbed and attributed to the company's revenues in the reporting year," - said in the documents that the RT was familiar with. However, the size of the grants received by Medusa was not indicated in the reports.
Partners of George Soros
The donors of Medusa are organizations known for their activities in the maintenance of democracy in the world.
OAK Foundation is a private charitable foundation. It was founded in 1983. Its head office is in Geneva. According to the European Foundation Center (EFC), OAK was founded by British billionaire Alan Parker. The fund is a family enterprise. The board of trustees, as indicated on the organization's website, except Parker includes his wife and family members.
According to the EFC, the tasks of the "family business" - a planetary scale: "addressing global public and environmental problems, especially those that have a serious impact on the lives of vulnerable groups." According to the OAK Foundation, the organization annually allocates more than $ 200 million to "charitable" projects.
Funds from the OAK Foundation were received, in particular, by the Open Society Institute of billionaire George Soros. In 2015, the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation recognized the "Open Society" as undesirable for Russia.
The recipients of the OAK grants were also the Russian Andrei Sakharov Foundation (over $ 1.6 million in 2010-2014) and the structure of the human rights NGO Memorial - about $ 2 million for projects in the Russian Federation, including activities aimed at "providing legal support to victims of a tough Russian anti-immigration policy ".
OAK Foundation does not forget about sexual minorities and actively allocates funds for programs related to supporting the LGBT community. More than $ 900,000 were sent to such projects in Russia, including within the framework of grants to the Sfera charitable foundation for the support of LGBT activists in 20 regions of the Russian Federation.
According to the OAK Foundation for the year 2017, in Russia, as an independent media, the organization supports Media Zone. However, it was not possible to find a concrete grant allocated for the activities of the Media Zone, in the OAK database. Recall that this Russian Internet media was founded in 2014 by the participants of the group Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina.
Information on specific grants allocated to Medusa was not found in the OAK Foundation database.
The second sponsor of Medusa is SIDA, a Swedish government agency headquartered in Stockholm. There is it with the money of Swedish taxpayers, but it finances projects around the world. According to the website of the organization, its activities are aimed at "supporting the economic and political development of poor countries, as well as the development of democracy." Not surprisingly, the Swedish agency also had joint projects with the structures of billionaire George Soros, in particular in 2011 - in support of civil society in Moldova.
In general, for various programs SIDA, according to the agency's website, in 2017, spent $ 5 billion.
On RT requests for the existence of agreements with Medusa in the OAK Foundation and SIDA, operational responses were not provided. Commentary from Galina Timchenko at the time of publication of the material also could not be obtained.
"On projects of a political nature"
According to the deputy director of the analytical department of Alpari Natalia Milchakova, the presence of grantors is typical for non-commercial projects.
"Why did the commercial organization indicate in the annual report that it has grantees, a very interesting question," the expert says.
According to her, grants could be received "for some individual projects of a political nature, and not for the usual economic activities of the company."
"Otherwise, no one would give her money. It is possible that such projects may be anti-Russian, "Milchakova said.
According to Vladimir Krupennikov, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policies, Information Technologies and Communications, after the publication of financial reports by Medusa Project SIA for 2017, Medusa "can be recognized as an agent".
"If they receive funding from foreign grantors, they must notify, after which they enter the register of foreign agents," the deputy explained in a conversation with RT.
If the media refuses to "label" themselves as an ino agent, its activities in Russia may be banned, Krupennikov stressed.
Recall, on November 25, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law under which media receiving foreign funding can be recognized in the country by foreign agents. The document became a forced response to the harassment of Russian media in the US, in particular the recognition of RT America by a foreign agent.
In December 2017, nine media were included in the register of foreign media that acted as a foreign agent, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL), and the present-day television channel.
According to the law that has entered into force, a foreign agent can also be recognized as a legal entity registered in a foreign country, regardless of its organizational and legal form. This is possible if such an organization distributes printed, audio, video and other content intended "for an unlimited number of persons" and at the same time receives foreign funding, including money from government agencies of other countries or international and foreign organizations.
According to the accounts of Medusa Project SIA, in 2017 the company received no less than € 341 thousand from "other creditors". However, which organizations are behind this vague wording are not specified.
In the company's accounts for previous years, data about individuals or organizations from which funds were received are also not available. Timchenko previously stated that she did not want to disclose her investors. In September 2014, she spoke in an interview with Forbes magazine that "their names will not tell anyone."
Later, from the report of Medusa, it became known that at the launch the publication received about $ 250,000 from the amnestied ex-head of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Let's remind, the legal person in Latvia Galina Timchenko has registered in July, 2014. In 2004-2014, she worked as the editor-in-chief of Lenta.ru and was dismissed, after which she decided to found new media outside of Russia. As noted on the website of the project, Galina Timchenko from October 2014 occupied the posts of the general director and editor-in-chief of Medusa. In January 2016, Ivan Kolpakov (previously deputy editor-in-chief of the publication) was appointed editor-in-chief, Timchenko retained the post of general director. The owner of 100% shares of SIA Medusa Project (the Latvian company that publishes Medusa) is Galina Timchenko.
- Galina Timchenko
- © Ints Kalnins
Income and expenses
The publication's profit for 2017, according to the accounts, was only € 976. At the same time by September 2018, according to the company, Galina Timchenko had to pay off the first of two loans that were taken to work on the Internet project.
The total amount of media debt at the end of 2017 was at least € 1.4 million. In approximately the same way, things were the same in previous years. As Life magazine reported earlier, 2015 ended for Medusa with a loss of € 1.1 million. In the first three months of operation in 2014, net losses amounted to € 159,600.
The independent auditor from the Riga-based LLC "Orients Audit & Finance", who studied the company's performance (the report is attached to the financial statements of Medusa Project SIA according to Latvian legislation), does not make the most optimistic conclusions about the financial state of Medusa. He draws attention to the fact that "the company's short-term liabilities exceeded current assets," and "equity is negative."
These conditions, together with other circumstances, say the auditors, "point to the fact that there is considerable uncertainty, which can cause serious doubts about the company's ability to continue working in the future."
Despite the documented amounts of debts and revenues, the conference "Medusa" - "Storm", held in 2018 in Moscow, was entirely devoted to the monetization of content and was called "Where is the money?".
"Medusa" itself, however, says that it earns on native advertising, although it loses in revenue due to the growth of the euro's exchange rate against the ruble. In response to a reader's question about financial indicators, Medusa on the project's website calls itself a "planned loss-making" company.
Finam Financial Analyst Timur Nigmatullin, who was familiarized at the request of RT with Medusa's report, believes that the reasons for the loss of the project may be in the type of business.
"Considering the type of business and its growth rates, the cost of loan servicing and the fact of its provision, it is possible to make an informed assumption that it (project.- RT ) is working on the business model of a start-up," says the expert. - Usually this means that there is an investor who finances the company (in this case through a loan) and hopes in the future to receive a return on investment in the form of dividends or (more popular way) reselling to another investor. "