The stalling of civil society development within the Russian Federation and its attendant causes have been a focus of academic study since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Alongside the emergence of a fragmented and chronically under-funded community of advocacy groups, the literature points to a rejection of democratic structures by the Russian populace and an absence of active civil engagement. Consequently, the international community has sought to bolster the growth and development of the Russian third sector by funding projects and organisations with a view to increasing public participation.

Utilising research undertaken in Samara oblast of the Russian Federation, this paper examines the role played by overseas donor agencies within the Samara Environmental Movement (SEM). In examining both the quality and quantity of donor assistance received, it reveals a number of dysfunctions arising from this aid, and in particular, a lack of contextualization and mis-direction of the assistance offered vis-à-vis citizen participation, alongside other behavioural impacts of donor funding within the SEM itself.

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