In Penza, the "Children of War" program that was helping Nazism victims, has been closed because of the new tougher Russian laws. The financial support for this initiative was provided by a German foundation, a collaboration with which now carries the risk of criminal consequences. Oleg Sharipkov, the director of "Civil Union," told about the program’s closure to the "Govorit NeMoskva" publication on August 10.
According to Oleg Sharipkov, "Civil Union" has been supported for over a decade by a German foundation, which has contributed 20 thousand euros towards the program. These means were spent on events for survivors of Nazism where elderly individuals could engage in drawing and painting, played chess, talked, listened to guest lecturers, and went on guided tours. The "Children of War" program has engaged over fifteen hundred individuals aged 80 and beyond in its activities.
On July 25, the State Duma endorsed a prohibition for domestic entities to collaborate with NGOs not listed in the Ministry of Justice's registry. Consequently, "Civil Union" faces the risk of criminal responsibility. Sharipkov is deliberating how best to inform the program's participants about its closure.
In a Facebook post, the activist has asked those who contributed financially to the program to redirect their donations to another organization, "People.Ideas," which has stepped in to assist the "Children of War" initiative.
Since its inception in 2002, "Civil Union" has been working on charity programs and civic initiatives in the Penza region. In 2019, the Ministry of Justice labeled the organization a foreign agent. This happened following publications by former FSB officer Alexander Tuzov. Sharipkov, the foundation's director, never denied that the organization was receiving funds from abroad. One of these sources is a South African foundation that extends support to local organizations worldwide.
The foreign agent status led to problems with the foundation’s partners, resulting in the closure of numerous social programs and projects.