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“A political organization should not depend on big donors”: Philanthropist Boris Zimin plans to reduce aid to Alexei Navalny’s ACF

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Businessman and philanthropist Boris Zimin, one of the major donors to Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), announced his intention to reduce the amount of his regular contributions to the organization, which have recently totaled $1m per year, in a recent video interview with Russian business journalist Elizaveta Osetinskaya.

In a conversation with The Insider, Boris Zimin said that the decision to reduce funding for the ACF was made back in mid-2022:

“A political (or any) organization should not depend on big donors. At one time, when the country's ‘law enforcement’ system drove the ACF underground, pursuing even small donors, it was necessary to violate that ‘canon,’ but now the ACF is now outside of Russia, and the organization has no obstacles in building relationships with supporters, at least those who are also beyond the reach of [Russia’s] ‘authorities.’ And for me, to be honest, I am not very comfortable being a major donor to a political (or any other) organization. I am ready to lend a shoulder in a difficult moment, but not for life.”

Zimin had previously claimed that he might reduce his donations if he was dissatisfied with the way the foundation operated. In the interview with Osetinskaya, he suggested that the ACF rely more on crowdfunding efforts to finance its activities.

Zimin called the letters to the European Commission signed by former ACF head Leonid Volkov in favor of two Russian oligarchs, Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, as well as other wealthy Russians, “a disaster.” The letter listed multiple reasons why both individuals should be removed from the sanctions that were imposed on them after Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The philanthropist signed the “Declaration of Russian Democratic Forces” condemning the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine, which was recently adopted in Berlin at a meeting of Russian opposition figures initiated by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Navalny's supporters from the ACF did not attend the meeting or sign the document.

Boris Zimin is a Russian businessman, public figure, and philanthropist. The son of Dmitry Zimin, the founder of VimpelCom (operating under the brand name Beeline), one of Russia’s largest mobile telecommunications operators, Boris Zimin is involved with the Zimin Foundation, which finances and supports Russian non-profit projects in the field of education, human rights protection and freedom of speech, as well as scientific research in mathematics, biology, and medicine.

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