Russian oligarchs have donated millions to U.S. charities, museums and universities, according to analysis from the Anti-Corruption Data Collective. American philanthropies, museums and universities have accepted millions of dollars from tycoons aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including several who are the targets of Western sanctions.

As many as a dozen oligarchs landed in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, with several more coming under scrutiny during President Donald Trump’s recent impeachment saga. These oligarchs’ financial activities in the United States, however, are by no means limited to politics or connections to political interference campaigns. Instead, they extend to a range of philanthropic activities, much of which has gone previously unreported.

As reported in the Washington Post, a new database compiled by the Anti-Corruption Data Collective reveals that seven of these post-Soviet oligarchs connected to interference efforts have donated between $372 million and $435 million to more than 200 of the most prestigious non-profit institutions in the U.S. over the past two decades. Recipients include think tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, to world-renowned universities such as Harvard and the University of Southern California, to cultural icons such as the New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Beneficiaries have also been renowned institutions such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Mayo Clinic and the Guggenheim Museum. ACDC’s data demonstrates and documents how deeply money from Russian oligarchs has penetrated American society.

The findings are likely to amplify demands that U.S. cultural organizations disavow donors believed to have profited from the Putin regime. The analysis was produced by the Anti-Corruption Data Collective, a group of academics, data analysts and policy advocates working to expose transnational corruption.

The fall out was swift. For example, in New York, Carnegie Hall halted concerts by conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev and the Metropolitan Opera will not engage pro-Putin artists.

As the world condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the data could amplify demands for American institutions to disavow donors aligned with Putin.

The ACDC brings together leading journalists, data analysts, academics and policy advocates to expose transnational corruption flows and push for policy change using the advocacy reach of ACDC partners.

The Collective draws from experts and participating organizations with on-the-ground networks of local non-profit partners and journalists in more than 100 countries around the world. We leverage both data and expertise to target specific vehicles for hiding and laundering ill-gotten gains.

One wonders how Russian charities are going to navigate these realities. Their work and their benefactors may fall victim to the war in ways with no clear path to recovery. Sad all around for philanthropy across the planet.

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The Editor

The Editor