No help needed. Valery Panyushkin on the degradation of charity in Russia

9 March 2024

by Valery Panyushkin


From the world of charity, as also, indeed, from all spheres of human activity short of cannibalism, yet worse and worse news. Nearly simultaneously, Oleg Tinkov announced the closing of his charitable foundation and the Ministry of Justice classified the ‘Help Needed’ foundation as a foreign agent.

Less than three years ago, in the film ‘New Blood,’ Tinkov told me about how he suffered from leukemia and how he created a charitable foundation dedicated to saving people from the illness. Among other things, Tinkov planned for the creation of a registry of bone marrow donors in Russia, which would include a million potential donors.

That’s a lot. All currently existing bone marrow registries in Russia amount to scarcely 300,000 volunteers who are ready to share their own stem cells if a patient is found with matching DNA. Stem cell transplantation is a radical method of treatment for many types of blood cancer. Every year in Russia 5,000 people are in need of such transplants. Realistically, only around a thousand unrelated donor transplants are done in total. 4,000 people who could have been cured die. 

So it turns out that another 4,000 people per year must be added to the number of military casualties, because these people could be cured, but they will die.

Another not insignificant fact is that the Tinkov Family Foundation has financed – to a considerable degree – the Leukemia Foundation, which, in turn, has notably supported the National Medical Research Centre for Hematology in Moscow – one of the main clinics where adult patients are treated. In fact, in Russia, the state allocates money only for the treatment of simple leukemias that occur without complications. As soon as a patient requires targeted drugs or a bone marrow transplant, they can’t manage without charitable assistance. Of course, the closing of the Tinkov Foundation does not also mean the closing of the Leukemia Foundation, but possibilities for charitable assistance for adult patients will be drastically reduced.

We will not know how many people die because of this – the Ministry of Health does not gather insightful statistics.

We will likewise not know how many people struggle, and in what ways, as a result of the ‘Help Needed’ foundation’s classification as a foreign agent. The ‘Help Needed’ foundation has supported hundreds of small charitable funds across the country with tens of millions of rubles per year. These funds do everything on earth. One built a shelter for homeless animals. One – an inclusive kindergarten, where abled children can attend together with children with disabilities. One fights against domestic violence. One helps provincial schoolteachers. And it cannot even be said that all these small charitable foundations will immediately close all over the country. No, they will close by degrees, and you will not even notice that in your city there is no longer an inclusive kindergarten, and homeless animals aren’t distributed to families, but simply shot. 

I seriously believe that the destruction of independent charitable foundations is state policy. Thousands of small charitable organizations are knowingly replaced with big, governmental ones, like ‘Circle of Good’ and ‘Defenders of the Fatherland.’ The goal is simple – not to allow people to think that they themselves are able to solve their own problems, especially if they band together. To maintain in people the infantile belief that if anyone solves their problems, it will be the state.

Translated by Alyssa Rider

Leave a Reply