Mayo Clinic among organizations scrutinized for Russian donations

Mayo Clinic is among the organizations named in a new report examining the relationship between U.S. institutions and charitable contributions from Russian oligarchs, The Washington Post reported March 7. 

The analysis is from the Anti-Corruption Data Collective, a group of academics, data analysts and policy advocates working to expose transnational corruption. It coincides with calls from civic groups around the world for Western institutions to cut ties with Russians aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mayo Clinic is one healthcare institution analyzed in the report, the Post reported. (Becker's has requested a complete copy from the Anti-Corruption Data Collective and will update this coverage accordingly.) Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, donated at least $1 million to the Rochester, Minn.-based health system in 2011 or before, as well as to Amfar, the Foundation for AIDS Research. 

Mr. Rybolovlev was named under a 2017 law requiring the Treasury Department to list oligarchs and political figures close to the Russian government.

"The institutions receiving the money often did not provide precise figures for the donations, only lower bounds, and the amounts could be substantially higher," the Post noted.

The Post reported that none of the institutions contacted for their article planned to return donations. A spokesperson for Mayo Clinic shared the following comment with Becker's: "Mr. Rybolovlev made one gift to Mayo Clinic more than 15 years ago, and the funds have been spent. The fundraising relationship is not active."

Other organizations cited include New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Guggenheim Museum. "Because many large cultural institutions are not required to reveal their funding sources, the analysis probably reflects only a portion of the oligarchs' donations," the Post reported. 

These "contributions to charity and cultural institutions are done in hopes that Western society will look past questions about where their money comes from," David Szakonyi, PhD, assistant professor of political science at Washington, D.C.-based George Washington University and co-founder of the data collective, told the Post. He said the analysis highlights the need for stricter requirements on charities to disclose major donors.


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