A major educational exchange organization has been notified that its Moscow office is not in compliance with a Russian law governing foreign nongovernmental organizations. The American Councils for International Education, which last year sent 580 American students and scholars to Russia and 1,200 Russians to the U.S., expects there will be minimal disruptions to its exchange programs as it applies for re-registration of the office.
“We do not expect any interruption at all for study abroad programs for American students. And because this year’s recruitment is already completed for the inbound programs, if we can be reincorporated in the next two months, the impact should be very small,” said Dan E. Davidson, the president of the American Councils.
The organization has directed a moratorium on the activities of its Russian offices, which primarily focus on student recruitment, alumni relations, and back office functions. Davidson said that the organization had passed a compliance review in January but was re-reviewed in March, at which point the interpretative guidance surrounding the law on international NGOs seems to have changed. He said it seemed likely that deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russian governments over Ukraine may have triggered additional scrutiny of the council’s activities there. “For me, it’s very hard to see it any other way,” Davidson said. “These programs have served both countries well.”