Russia: Free Buryatia Foundation declared ‘undesirable’

Russia’s General Prosecutor has declared the Free Buryatia Foundation, which is registered in the U.S. and which has been outspoken against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an “undesirable” organization, reports Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

The Prosecutor General’s office called the foundation a “pseudo-rights group,” noting that its leadership resides permanently in the U.S., Czechia, Poland, and the U.K. “Under the guise of ‘educational’ activities, they are attempting to create an informational threat, organize mass protests in Buryatia, and expand the circle of people who support potential separatist movements,” the agency said.

The Free Buryatia Foundation was created soon after the start of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine. Among other things, the organization helps soldiers from Buryatia, a republic of the Russian Federation, sever their contracts with Russia’s Defense Ministry. Independent Russian news network TV Rain notes that during Russia’s mobilization campaign, Free Buryatia also helped young men avoid conscription and leave the front lines.

In July 2022, the foundation reported that it had brought 150 Buryat soldiers who refused to fight home from Ukraine. Soon afterwards, the organization’s website was blocked in Russia. In March 2023, the Justice Ministry declared the organization a “foreign agent.”