The Gift of Life Foundation, which helps children with cancer, considers various scenarios when planning further work and does not rule out that the organization may be recognized as a foreign agent or even closed down. About this in the Russian media program “Chronicles of the New World” said Ekaterina Shergova, fund manager.
“In my office there is a poster in front of me, I bought it myself. He says, “If plan A doesn’t work, remember there are 32 more letters in the alphabet.” So, of course, we have a variety of plans for the most negative scenarios,” she said.
According to the head of Give Life, the fund will not stop operating of its own accord, but there is a plan within the organization, for example, in the event of recognition as a foreign agent. According to Shergova, the fund thought about the existence of such a risk even more than ten years ago, when this law was just passed. But then, with other “Give Life” NGOs, “it was possible to obtain” that the law does not apply to medical organizations.
“But at the same time, I understand that no reservations will save. If tomorrow, for example, a janitor who cleans in the yard of the house where I live, and he is a citizen of Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, decides to help the fund, then his hundred rubles can be interpreted from this way (like foreign funding),” she explained, noting that, “judging by law enforcement, it is possible.”
However, Shergova received no “calls from above” regarding the fund’s listing on the foreign agent register or Shergova’s possible closure.
There are always risks
Responding to a question about how the departure from the country of one of Podari Zhizn’s founders, actress Chulpan Khamatova, affected the work of the fund, Shergova said that “there are always risks” and that they exist “for everyone living in Russia”. According to her, for some of Podari Zhizn’s benefactors, “the figure of Chulpan was extremely important”, and his position “may have played a certain role in the decision not to help the foundation any longer”.
“Such people, of course, exist, but I don’t know any of them personally, no one has personally told me this, that ‘I don’t help you anymore for this reason. But there are the same risks in there when you have fund ambassadors who have their own position,” she explained.
However, the head of the fund is convinced that everyone has the “right to freedom of opinion”, and Chulpan also has the right to his position. She pointed out that the foundation has a charitable program, whereby it helps children and doctors to treat children, and it doesn’t matter what the organization’s management “thinks and does in their spare time.”
“Unfortunately, there has been a meltdown in people’s minds <…> Among other things, we are still friends. She is my friend. We speak. She is a free person, like all of us, in principle, and she is absolutely free in her decision, no matter what it will be. She decided to leave Russia, left the board of the foundation. She is not now committed to the fund in the same way as she was to it before she left. I don’t know what will happen next, what decision she will make,” Shergova added.
In March 2022, Chulpan Khamatova announced that she had left Russia for Latvia due to the situation in Ukraine. After the outbreak of hostilities, on February 26, she signed, along with other cultural figures, an open letter calling for an end to the conflict and the opening of peace negotiations. At the end of March 2022, Khamatova became an actress at the New Riga Theater. Announcing the decision, theater director Alvis Hermanis called Khamatova “the number one actress” in Russia and a “model of humanism” because of her work at the Podari Zhizn foundation.
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