Around this time, we try to do a year-in-review article to summarize the good and bad of the men and women who are still rebuilding their lives in the wake of the Soviet shadow; we look back at the road we’ve traveled and look forward to steps in the next year. This year, we are instead coming to the end of our own road.
All good things, and this foundation, must come to an end. On December 31, 2017, we will be closing down permanently.
Our regular followers will have noted a precipitous decline in activity over time. Astute readers will have seen something like this coming. I’d like to explain why.
A charitable organization that sells nothing — as we do not — including advertising space is entirely dependent upon donations from patrons — small donations by lots of people or large donations by wealthy people, or some combination of the two. We have enjoyed large donations and, the last couple of years, we have gotten by on the forbearance of others and from my own pocket, as our larger donations have dried up, one by one. The market among people of means for keeping alight the flame of democracy in what increasingly looks like a more depressing version of the Russian Empire has dwindled as America and Europe have turned inward; those who think Trump or Brexit or whatever’s happening in Catalonia are causes of this, or sudden spasms, have not watched their own backyards as those of us who write to and for the East have.
Without funds, we cannot continue; we’ve tried, and it hasn’t worked. We have tried to find wealthy patrons and investors who would and could take on this project and continue it in the same spirit; two out of three isn’t bad, but it’s not enough.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to be part of this venture, and so I’d like to thank first and foremost our tech team for keeping the lights on when funds were poor and the attacks non-stop; our writers and reporters, who told stories the East needed to hear and the West could see daily; our founding donors, for having a vision of a world in which Ukraine and Azerbaijan and Georgia and even Armenia would be part of the West, and perhaps someday the -stans and Russia might, as well; to our NGO partners, who provided mentoring and logistical help when it was needed; and most of all, to our readers, in the former Soviet Union and, surprisingly, Europe and the United States (and Latin America!). We did this for you; we ask only that you carry on our project as you are able, and to remember that democracy doesn’t die in darkness; it dies in the light, with everyone watching, unless its participants press on through adversity to the better day that’s always just over the horizon.