Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wilson Center Shutting Down Moscow Office

The Wilson Center has decided to shut down the Moscow office of the Kennan Institute, the oldest of the think tank's programs.

Here is what Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH) reports today:
The Russian academic community reacted with shock and alarm to the recent decision by the Washington, DC-based Woodrow Wilson Center to shut down the Moscow office of the Kennan Institute.

Reports suggest that funding was an issue as well as the declining relations between the US and Russia.  The New York Times reported last month that the Institute would close this spring.  Here is what they had to say:
News of the closing, confirmed by the head of the Kennan Institute comes as a number of large United States aid and academic programs here that flowered after the collapse of the Soviet Union have been plagued by budget cuts and frigid relations between the two countries recently.

Various Russian academics who have received grants from the center recently published an open letter protesting the decision to close.

Here is more on the closing from The New York Times:
The process has been punctuated by political interventions like the expulsion of the United States Agency for International Development by the Russian government in 2012 and by a budget shortfall that forced the United States to defund grants for research and language study in former Soviet bloc countries last year.
Matthew Rojansky, the head of the Kennan Institute, said that while the center’s Moscow office had withstood police investigations under a new Russian law requiring certain nongovernmental organizations to register as “foreign agents,” the death of a major sponsor and the loss of United States government funding for research proved decisive.

Besides the Moscow branch, the Kennan Institute also has an office in Washington, DC and Kyiv, Ukraine.  Here is a link to the Russian site, and here is a link to the Ukrainian site.

Here is a 10-minute video about the Kennan Institute.  Here is what the Institute has to say about the crisis in Ukraine.

The Wilson Center has considered selling or stopping publication of the Wilson Quarterly, a well-known, 37-year-old magazine published by the think tank, due to budget constraints.

Here is an interesting fact about the Wilson Center that was just reported in CQ Weekly: Nearly 150 visiting scholars study at the Wilson Center each year.

The Wilson Center was just ranked as the 10th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 6th best think tank in the United States.