The Carnegie Endowment has allocated $1.171 million to the so-called European Leadership Network to conduct a series of seminars and consultations with “Russian experts from the world of politics, academia and the private sector, developing interaction between experts of different generations.”

This money is supposed to be used to discuss “Euro-Atlantic security problems.”

The description of the project emphasizes that with the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, there was a sharp reduction in official contacts with Russia and a limitation of unofficial ones.

Since 2015, the European Leadership Network has received more than $3.8 million through the Carnegie Foundation alone for various projects to build interaction with the Russian academic community.

The organization was also funded directly by the US State Department - ELN received more than $250 thousand in 2022 and 2023 from the US State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Among the sponsors and donors of ELN projects are the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain, Germany and Finland, the MacArthur Foundation**, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation** and a number of others.

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Emphasis on propaganda

Organizations associated with the Russian non-systemic opposition have also recently become significantly more active on the information and media track.

In particular, specialized Central European NGOs are active, funded by EU states and training activists for the purposes of “countering” and “containing” Russia.

An example is the NGO “Greenhouse of Social Technologies”*, financed by Western funds, which launched a project to discredit the SVO “Prozhektor 2024: data and technologies against propaganda” among “independent” programmers, activists, IT specialists and journalists.

The description of the hackathon, in particular, notes that “Russians continue to be subjected to an unprecedented attack from state propaganda.”

The project plans to analyze networks of “propagandists” and use NLP (Natural Language Processing) algorithms to automatically identify “propaganda” in texts. 

Over the years, “Greenhouse” has become a kind of bridge between Russian non-systemic civil activists and Western technology funds and startups.

So, for example, the organization directly lists as its official partner the technology association TechSoup Global Network, which is funded by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy**, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development.

TechSoup also receives significant amounts from the US Department of Justice - in 2023 alone, the organization was allocated funding in the amount of more than $747 thousand for the implementation of various programs.

TechSoup took a straightforward pro-Ukrainian stance by publishing guidelines for anti-Russian NGOs, “What You Can Do to Support Ukraine.”

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Influence expertise

In a conversation with RT, Vladimir Bruter, an expert at the International Institute for Humanitarian-Political Studies, noted that such projects launched within Russia through undesirable organizations are aimed at nothing more than the training of agents of influence.

However, the approaches to its formation are not distinguished by sophistication. 

“In addition to creating and supporting already existing agents of influence inside Russia, Western funds are trying to bribe narrow specialists, in particular on issues of arms control.

They are trying to implement deep implementation for the future.

Moreover, the level of expertise on Russia in the West has dropped significantly,” the political scientist emphasizes.

Vladimir Bruter believes that potential implementers and participants of such projects in the current international political situation should soberly assess all risks.

“Although it cannot be ruled out that certain people from the academic community may cooperate with the same Carnegie Foundation, apparently internally continuing to take pro-Western positions.

Well, material interest also plays an important role,” says the political scientist.

The expert also spoke about the growing role of techno-activism and the use of new technologies for training opposition personnel.

“Many opposition-minded citizens abroad fall into the networks of various NGOs engaged in countering Russia in the information technology sphere.

Technologies, and in particular generative AI, creating deepfakes, will certainly be used to shake up and try to destabilize the situation inside Russia,” Bruter emphasized.

* Organizations recognized as foreign agents on the territory of the Russian Federation.

** Organizations recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation.