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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gorbachev's Foundation: An Institute Under Fire

The Gorbachev Foundation is battenirg down its hatches as a result of wrangling between the current and former Kremlin leaders


"It's a little tight here", said Vladimir Polyakov as he and other spokespeople for Mikhail Gorbachev rushed to finish the latest of the press releases they have been faxing almost daily to news bureaus.


The foundation's 200 employees cleared their desks late last week after President Boris Yeltsin ordered them out of all but 1, 000 square meters of a former Communist Party school that was turned over to Gorbachev after he stepped down as Soviet president in December.


Opened last March, the Gorbachev Foundation has an overall aim of social and political research. Its six research centers - political studies, social programs, economic programs, global programs, and others - organize conferences and sponsor studies that have brought specialists together from all over the world.


Among the foundation's activities to date have been an international conference in June, an 80 hour course on the practical aspects of organizing political campaigns and training seminars for Moscow teachers on contemporary social and political problems.


Speaking with reporters last week, Gorbachev vowed that work would go on. But, cramped in its new quarters, other foundation staff say that it will take a while to get going again.


Several seminars and exchange programs planned for this fall have been put on hold, according to Vyacheslav Shostakovsky, the head of the foundation's Social Knowledge Center.


A program on the market economy for 40 top students from Moscow's secondary schools was to start Tuesday but will not begin until the center can find space to hold classes. The same has happened with a Russian history course for teachers, and a series of seminars to be run by the Democratic Party of Russia, which had rented office space from the foundation.


The foundation has also lost a 190 room hard-currency hotel, store and restaurant, all part of the complex at Leningradsky Prospekt. An article in Nezavisimaya Gazeta last week said the foundation had relied on income from these ventures to cover costs. A representative of the foundation's commercial department said, however, that hard-currency income had been minimal, and covered only building maintenance expenses and employee salaries, which average about 5, 000 rubles ($15) per month. Instead, the foundation survives on donations from abroad as well as sale of its studies Mikhail Poltoranin, the press and information minister, told reporters last week that the foundation had engaged in profiteering instead of social and political studies. But an audit conducted by the Russian government in August showed nothing of the sort, according to foundation officials ". The results of that audit will be published soon, and all his claims will be overturned", Polyakov said. Poltoranin had also accused Gorbachev of using state property to set up a "Bolshevik center" of opposition to the Yeltsin government. But foundation officials say that their sponsorship of courses given by political parties like Vice President Alexander Rutskoi's People's Party of Free Russia should be enough to prove that this is not the case.