Non-governmental organization (NGO) is often a misleading label. Over the past several decades, a new phenomenon – government-backed NGOs – has emerged. These groups are formally independent from governments, but in reality rely on government support and funding, domestic or foreign.
In Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan states, foreign governments – both from the West and Russia – have used NGOs to further geopolitical aims.
The involvement of organizations like USAID and NED in funding pro-Western NGOs has created both fear and suspicion that Western governments are attempting to instigate color revolutions – popular protest movements aimed at regime change.
NGOs across the former communist bloc are largely not financially viable without domestic government or outside support.
While both Russia and the West use NGOs, funding these groups is not a very effective method of influencing decision-making and public opinion.