The day before it expected to close for lack of funding, the Sakharov Museum and human rights center in Russia received a $3 million grant from controversial investor Boris Berezovsky, the Associated Press Nov 30.
Berezovsky is facing a criminal probe by the Russian government, which alleges he channeled $970 million from national airline Aeroflot. He denies any wrongdoing.
Berezovsky – who made a fortune on privatization deals in the 1990s through his Kremlin links, and has never visited the museum — said he made the donation to protest recent moves by the government toward authoritarianism.
Berezovsky has lost favor under President Vladimir Putin, who has pledged to cut back on the influence of big business leaders in Russian politics.
The museum, which chronicles Soviet persecutions and human rights abuses, expressed some misgivings about accepting support from such a questionable source and one who has never visited the institution, dedicated to late dissident and Nobel Peace laureate Andrei Sakharov.
Sakharov’s widow, Elena Bonner, told reporters that the museum’s acceptance of the gift did not mean that Sakharov’s reputation was for sale.
“I won’t give away my name or Sakharov’s name,” she said. “Even a dissident movement cannot exist without money.”
Museum officials said they have received most of the $3 million gift — almost double the museum’s operating costs since it opened in 1996.
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