We managed to postpone the closing of the Museum but it still needs help…
On November 6, 2007 I informed everyone with an open letter FOR WHOM IT IS IMPORTANT that the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre is on the point of being closed. Moreover, if additional financing sources do not appear, the founder of the Museum the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (Russia) - and the Museum's administration will have to dismiss almost all the employees and stop the work on January 1, 2008.
Information about the Museum's dramatic situation spread widely. In August December 2007 the threat of closing the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre was reported by radio stations Radio Svoboda, Ekho Moskvy, Mayak; websites of a weekly Novoye Vremya, Interfax, Grani.ru, Human Rights in Russia and others; newspapers Kommersant, Moscow News, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Novaya Gazeta and a number of foreign media.
Today I'd like to inform you that we managed to postpone the closing of the Museum. In January March 2008 we expect to receive grants sufficient to ensure the Museum's work till the end of August 2008. But there remains a real threat of closing the Museum on September 1, 2008. This will happen if we don't find financing sources to pay the Museum's staff in September December 2008 ($ 45,000 in ruble equivalent). The Museum's budget for 2008 is $ 540,000, with budget deficit $180, 000. The budget and the staff schedule are available on our site www.sakharov-center.ru. As for the Museum's work in 2009, there is no solution to this matter yet.
I want to name and thank everyone who offered help to the Museum. First, 34 Russian citizens helped the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre by transferring to the Museum's account donations totaling at 266,000 rubles (the donators' names are available on the Museum's site). Second, the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (Russia) and the Museum's administration received a grant (58, 000 crowns) from the Embassy of Norway to support one of the most long-lasting Museum's programs Memory of Rights Abuse. We also expect to receive a grant ($160,000) from the Andrei Sakharov Foundation (USA) for infrastructure and staff maintenance. Third, the Museum is waiting for the EU Parliament's decision on giving two grants (€50,000 each). One - for popularization of the Andrei Sakharov Prize, instituted by the EU Parliament, in Russia. The other for the Museum's support. Forth, the Museum expects to receive a grant ($60,000) from the NED to continue organize the Teacher's Contest History of Political Repressions and Resistance in the USSR.
I am also aware that the matter of how to aid the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre was discussed and is being discussed by the ambassadors of many European states.
Unfortunately, we got answers that upset us. For example, President of the MacArthur Foundation (USA) Mr. Fanton said that though he respects the Museum's activity, the MacArthur Foundation won't be able to support the Museum in 2008 because the foundation is in financial strain. I write about it because inability to receive in 2008 support from the MacArthur Foundation that helped us greatly before makes our chances even less.
I have to say I am amazed that among those who offered their help to the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public centre there are no Russian donators not a single Russian millionaire, not a single Russian company, not a single Russian bank and not a single famous person. Yet, Andrei Sakharov is, and I heard it from several people, Russian national brand in almost the same way as Gorky and Chekhov, Mayakovsky and Pushkin, Rerikh and Vasnetsov, Kurchatov and Mendeleev that are the glory of Russian culture and science.
So, in this still dramatic situation (though less dramatic now than in November 2007) I again turn to those for whom it is important, to individuals and public or state foundations, banks and industrial corporations in Russia, Europe, the USA with the request to support the Museum's activity as an independent cultural institution. Accounts to transfer donations are available on the Museum's site www.sakharov-center.ru.
I suppose that the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre deserves support because its varied activity focuses on realization and defense of political, intellectual, religious and economic freedom and the values of humanism, human rights and democracy in contemporary Russia. I believe that without struggle to maintain these values and freedom this country faces gloomy future. The Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Centre is an active and unique unit among other cultural institutions struggling for this.
I will be very grateful to everybody for distribution of this appeal.
Director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center.
Translation by Polina Rybina