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July 22, 2015

Under Kremlin Pressure, MacArthur Shutters Russia Office

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is closing its Moscow office amid stepped-up pressure by Russian authorities on foreign nonprofits operating in the country, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago-based philanthropy, which has made $179 million in grants in Russia since 1991, was one of several major U.S. organizations placed on a Kremlin watch list earlier this month under a new Russian law targeting "undesirable" groups Moscow accuses of meddling in domestic affairs.

Such steps marked a new phase in a Kremlin clampdown on Russian nongovernmental organizations and their foreign supporters. In a statement Monday, MacArthur President Julia Stasch said the foundation has "never supported political activities or other actions that could reasonably be construed as meeting the definition of 'undesirable' " but that the Kremlin moves "make it clear that the Russian government regards MacArthur's continued presence as unwelcome."