Russia is the world’s largest country stretching from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, spanning eleven time zones. With the seventh highest population of all countries, Russia is home to over 146 million people and over 200 ethnic groups. Regarded as one of the most heterogeneous countries in the world, Russia has considerable variations in population distribution, ethnic composition, cultures and socio-economic contexts.
Russia plays an increasingly important political and economic role in global and regional development. The Russian government aspires to become one of the top international development and humanitarian assistance donors. There are substantial opportunities for donors and partnerships in Russia which address key humanitarian and development issues both within the country, in the region and globally.
The philanthropic giving potential of the population in Russia is significant and is on the rise. Russia and Belarus traditionally host the main bodies of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), established to coordinate inter-state social, political and economic relations between the countries of the former Soviet Union. These institutions include: Inter-parliamentary Assembly of CIS based in St. Petersburg;
Secretariat of CIS based in Minsk; and the Secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization based in Moscow. Russia also hosts significant international events and fora such as the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, BRICS conferences, university forums and think tanks. The IFRC Country Cluster office in Russia will continue to build on existing and develop new strategic partnerships addressing important humanitarian issues in the areas of migration, health, trans-border cooperation in disasters. Opportunities to mobilize support within Russia for Red Cross Red Crescent Movement work in the international humanitarian arena will be developed and nurtured.
The Russian Red Cross is the oldest humanitarian organization in the country, founded in 1867 and composed of 84 regional branches and 983 local branches.
Some regions of Russia are the size of large European countries such as Sweden or Spain, therefore to meet the needs the scale of the Russian Red Cross’ branch operations would need to be comparable to those of an entire National Society in other contexts.
The IFRC Country Cluster of Russia, Moldova and Belarus is based in Moscow and the team works closely with the Russian Red Cross providing technical support and resources in key priority areas.
This plan aims to support vulnerable people with basic food and essential items, access to appropriate health services with particular focus on migrants, on people living with TB and HIV, and to develop a strategy for support to older people. In parallel, IFRC will support with a major modernization of the Russian Red Cross with the aim to establish it as the lead humanitarian organization in the country. The purpose of reforming and modernization of the Russian Red Cross is to evolve and to increase its positive impact on the lives of vulnerable people. The gap between the Russian Red Cross capacity and the demands the country context is putting on the National Society is significant.
To address this gap the Russian Red Cross launched a change process which will promote the adoption of the Red Cross Law and will include expanding resource mobilization activities, consolidating the legal base, strengthening human resources management, improving evidence-based programming capabilities and raising the profile of the organization. There is enormous potential for resource mobilization in the country, and Russian Red Cross will build on its already highly successful emergency fundraising to develop income generation for longer term domestic programmes and international disaster response. The Russian Red Cross will seek to significantly expand its volunteer base with a focus on youth, to strengthen disaster preparedness infrastructure which is critical to saving lives, protecting livelihoods, and strengthening recovery and to ensure a meaningful presence underpinned by domestic fundraising across this vast country. IFRC will accompany the process, providing representation, technical support, dialogue and coordination with other actors including the ICRC.