Statement on last weekend’s Sunday Times article

An article in the Sunday Times by Andrew Gilligan last weekend (16/10/16) is remarkable for its inaccuracies and shoddy reporting. It accuses the Stop the War Coalition of having links with two Russian organisations which it claims take money from the Russian state.

One of these organisations, AGMR, has absolutely no links with Stop the War and is completely unknown to any of us. It is apparently a pro-government organisation which claims links with various NGOs worldwide, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is true.

The second organisation, IGSO, is a left-wing think tank headed by Boris Kagarlitsky, a well-known Russian socialist with a long record of opposition to Putin. Kagarlitsky has spoken at Stop the War meetings on a few occasions, including at the protests against the Nato summit in south Wales in 2014. His organisation has received one grant for research into trade unions from a government body but is an independent NGO.

Kagarlitsky has suffered imprisonment and harassment at the hands of the Russian state.

This information was available to Gilligan but he chose to still run with a story, even though its foundation is false. It is a disgrace that Gilligan and the Sunday Times are prepared to publish this kind of denigration of anti-war activists in both Russia and Britain. Although perhaps not surprising given the consistent pro-war agenda of the Murdoch press.

Boris Kagarlitsky’s Response

Gillingan’s argument is based on amalgamating two different Russian organisations that have nothing in common. One of them is the Anti-Globalisation Movement of Russia (AGMR), a strange group which had a reputation for consisting of marginal nationalist freaks until they suddenly received funding from sources close to the presidential administration. The group may pretend to have connections with different groups or NGOs around the world but most of them have never had any contact with AGMR. Neither IGSO nor StWC have ever held any events or had any contact with AGMR.

A Pro-Putin organisation

IGSO is a left-wing think tank which is known for its opposition to the current Russian government. In 2011, its director, Boris Kagarlitsky was among leaders and organisers of mass protests in Moscow against electoral fraud. (These activities of Kagarlitsky are reported by a leading anti-Putin weekly in Russia, Novaya gazeta, where Kagarlitsky served in early 2000’s as its Political Section Editor.) Immediately before the elections IGSO organised an international fact-finding mission to Bashkiria to expose electoral fraud there — this mission included John Rees of StWC who later shared his impressions in a publication with a telling title – ‘From Russia with Fraud?’.

Following the protests Kagarlitsky’s flat was searched by police in November 2012 as he was accused of conspiring to overthrow the government — accusations later dropped.

Again, this was reported by a leading radio station opposing Putin’s government in Russia —

Also around the same time IGSO was suspected by Russian authorities of being a ‘foreign agent’ organisation which led to a ‘проверка’ (a screening process from tax authorities) by the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor’s office. IGSO had to pay a fine for ‘errors’ in its statute but other accusations were later dropped.

In 2006-2008 Kagarlitsky was on the hit list of Russian neo-Nazi group BORN, a fact that was reported by leading anti-Putin liberal magazine ‘The New Times’.

During the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 the website Rabkor, connected to IGSO criticized both the Russian government and the West, as well as both old and new Kiev governments. It presented a different view from Crimea, including those opposed to its annexation by Russia, but pointed to the fact that the great majority of the Crimean population supported the new status of the territory.

In 2016 Rabkor joined Novaya gazeta in denouncing electoral fraud, in fact it remained one of the few Russian media outlets that dared to do so. Both Rabkor and IGSO remain among the most vocal critics of the Russian government, especially on its economic and social policy. But this doesn’t mean that these criticisms are reproducing anti-Russian discourse typical for Western media and pro-Western liberals inside Russia. That is why Kagarlitsky and Rabkor are often attacked from both sides — from the government and from pro-Western liberals.

Kremlin Money

Founded in 2007 IGSO had different sources of funding for its projects, including Rosa Luxemberg Foundation (RLS) from Germany and even the Soros Foundation (when it was allowed to operate in Russia). All this money was coming for specific academic research projects that were carried out by the institute. IGSO also won several grants in Russia for its research on social conflicts. All of them before 2016 when IGSO was completely cut off from all public sources of funding, most probably in retaliation for its radical criticisms of the government’s social and economic policies.

The closest partner of IGSO is the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR), the biggest free trade-union center opposed to pro-government Federation of Independent Trade Union of Russia. Most of the research done by IGSO is oriented towards serving trade-union needs.

The possible reference for ‘Kremlin money’ may be the presidential research grant given to IGSO in 2013 (realised between October 2013 and June 2014) to do research on the trade-union movement in Russia. This was part of a general program of public funding for research done by non-state institutions. The total amount of the grant in 2013 was about £56,600 over a 9 month period or £6,200 pounds per month. All money went to research and was accounted for in detail – officials were particuarly interested not to let IGSO spend a penny on any activities outside the research project.

No international activities of Kagarlitsky or other IGSO members were funded or payed for by any Russian sources, public or private, neither were they paid by IGSO itself (the organization simply doesn’t have the resources for that). International travel cost were mostly paid by academic institutions, RLS, Brussels-based leftist Transform! Network or by StWC itself. That made nationalist social media accuse Kagarlitsky and his comrades of being foreign agents or Western puppets.

What the Sunday Times means by saying that IGSO is funded from the same Kremlin source that supports AMGR is unclear.

The Conference in Ufa

Jeremy Corbyn was invited to Ufa for a conference, ‘International left and anti-crisis policies’, co-organized by IGSO, Bashkir Civil Service Academy and RLS. 100% of funds for the event were provided by RLS. The list of people invited included well known experts from Russia and from the West, including James Galbraith of University of Texas (Austin).

19 Oct 2016

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