A Russian foundation devoted to democracy and human rights will shortly be setting up shop in America. The Moscow-base Institute of Democracy and Opperation officially registred its New York branch as of December 31. The goal of the Institute is to organize discussions about elections and human rights issues as well as improving Russia’s image in the United States. According to Anatoly Kucherena, “the improvement of Russia’s image abroad is, of course, an important goal.” Last October, President Putin told European leaders of his desire to set up a think tank for freedom and democracy in either Brussels or elsewhere. I gather the elsewhere is the United States. The Institute denies it is an arm of the Russian government, but is merely a Russian model of the American Freedom House.
One can only wonder why a Russian version of the American Freedom House is located in New York rather than in Moscow. If the Institute is interested in studying denial of democratic processes in elections, it would certainly find more data by hanging around Russia and studying presidential elections in which the Putin party controls the media and makes difficult the emergence of other political parties. Putin is as much interested in fostering democracy in Russia as he is in walking away from power. He, most probably, is concerned with fostering democracy in the United States– that is a safe distance from the territory of Russia.