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Project on Transitional Democracies
3312 Rowland Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
“The Project on Transitional Democracies has been organized to exploit the opportunities to accelerate democratic reform and integration which we believe will exist in the broader Euro-Atlantic region over the next decade. The Project is a multi-year endeavor aimed at accelerating the pace of reform in Europe's post-1989 democracies and advancing the date for the integration of these democracies into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic.”
The Project on Transitional Democracies (PTD), a successor group to the U.S. Committee on NATO, aims to push democratic reforms in post-Soviet countries. Founded by long-standing Republican Party operative Bruce Jackson, the PTD describes itself in tax documents as a “micro-organization which concentrates exclusively on democratic change and societal transformation in the post-Soviet and post-Yugoslav world. We refer to this project as the Project on the Frontiers of Freedom or, alternatively, the Project on Europe’s East.”
Formerly led by a cadre of neoconservative-aligned policy activists, including Randy Scheunemann and Julie Finley, PTD appeared to function largely as a vehicle for the work of its director, Jackson, as of 2010. Tax documents from 2009 listed Jackson as the organization’s only paid employee. It had two unpaid employees at that time: Irina Krasovskaya (treasurer) and Paige Reffe (secretary).
Jackson is perhaps best known for his role in founding the now-defunct Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an advocacy group that helped build public support for invading Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. He also helped found the U.S. Committee on NATO; served as advisor to the American Enterprise Institute and Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy; was a director of the Project for the New American Century; and was a member of a now-defunct Freedom House program called the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya.
A former defense industry executive, Jackson stepped down from his position as vice president at Lockheed Martin in 2002 to focus on the Project on Transitional Democracies. In his capacity as director of PTD, Jackson has lectured on the relationships of the Balkans and other former Soviet republics with the United States and NATO at domestic and international think tanks.
He’s also spoken to the press on these issues. In November 2010, an Armenian news agency interviewed Jackson about a possible U.S. on the Armenian genocide. The news agency, ARMINFO, paraphrased Jackson’s response, reporting, “Jackson said that after an intense election, the leaders of both [U.S] parties will be reluctant to engage in international activism, such as recognizing that World War I era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The incoming House Republican generally believe that passing an Armenian resolution in not the foreign policy of the United States.”
Russia has long been a target of PTD activism. In 2006, the project released an “Open Letter to G7 Heads of State” in advance of the G8 meeting in St. Petersburg, stating that Russia was moving “in the wrong direction” with its increasingly authoritarian form of government. It urged them to put Vladimir Putin “on notice that Russia’s current domestic and foreign policies are unacceptable to its neighbors, to the international community and to many of its own citizens.” The letter also recommended the revocation of Russia’s membership to the then-G8 if it refused to comply.
According to the 2009 Form 990, the Project on Transitional Democracies received nearly $430,000 that year in contributions and grants, but does not list the sources of revenue.
According to Media Matters Action Network, from 2003-2007 PTD received a combined total of nearly $500,000 from three conservative foundations: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the William H. Donner Foundation.
The Smith Richardson Foundation grants included one in 2005 grant of $75,000 for the “Frontiers of Freedom” project, so that Jackson could “develop strategies to advance democratic and free-market reforms in Eastern and Central Europe and to integrate those countries into Western institutions. The project will analyze obstacles to reform and integration and provide the policy makers of these countries with recommendations for accelerating these processes.” A 2004 grant of $54,400 for the “Belarus: Europe's Next Flashpoint?” project had Arkady Cherepansky and Rodger Potocki examining the “political and economic trends in Belarus. They will convene a working group to assess the level of political repression and economic decline in Belarus and develop strategies to encourage political change and the integration of Belarus into the West.” Both projects’ findings were to be published.