This article discusses a set of tools of government enacted in Russia between 2009and 2013 to provide support to so-called socially-oriented nonprofit organizations (SO/NPOs). In Russia this approach is to be considered as a serious policy innovation since so far government policy vis-à-vis the nonprofit sector could be described as either indifferent or predominantly restrictive. The conceptual framework employed is based on the concept of “third-party government” and the tools of government approach. We first consider the legal definition of the subsector of SO/NPOs, and then investigate the newly introduced tools of government support featuring data on the scope of Russian federal government support for SO/NPOs, showing substantial similarity to government tool kits employed to support NPOs elsewhere in the world.
Russia has recently cracked down on politically active civil society, increasing regulation and undercutting foreign support. However, apolitical, service-oriented parts of civil society have not been subject to these restrictive policies. In contrast, since 2009 Russia has introduced a set of government tools to support socially oriented non-profit organisations. These tools present a framework akin to concepts of ‘third-party government’ and collaborative governance that have come to dominate Western public administration discourse. This article discusses the Russian government’s divergent positions towards civil society, the nature and extent of the supportive tool kit, and its prospects.
The term “civil society” in Russia is often taken to refer to civic organisations and movements created during and after the break-up of the Soviet Union, and is sometimes equated narrowly with “NGOs” – registered non-government, non-commercial, or public organisations. This paper attempts to look at civil society more widely. It considers both registered organisations and more spontaneous/informal civic actions; and follows local experts in challenging the idea that Russian civil society began in 1989–91. The paper considers both recent developments on the ground, and analyses by historians, sociologists, and political scientists that go back to soviet and pre-soviet periods.
This article discussesthe potential of evaluation to help NGOs, namely the WWF (the World Wide Fund for Nature) to promote sustainable development in the Russian forest sector. Aplication of evaluation can strengthen two out of three functions of NGOs - their expertise and lobbying. The third function of NGOs, as legitimisers, is difficult to perform in the Russian institutional climate. International partnerships address the issue of legitimacy and secure funding for NGOs. This international support is benefitial to a capacity building process and should promote the implementation of independent evaluation, which, in turn, can be helpful to promote sustainable development.