Communists want Soros Foundation branded ‘undesirable’ group
“The anti-Russian activities of Soros’s foundation must be recognized as undesirable before they assume the destructive forms that we could observe in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries,” MPs Valery Rashkin and Sergey Obukhov said, appealing to the Prosecutor General.
The Communist leaders claimed that the Open Society NGO had conducted “persistent anti-Russian activities for decades and that it happened both in Russia and in other countries. They said that the group was allegedly promoting hatred against Russians in Ukraine and also launched some “proxy subversive operations” in the Russian Federation.
In particular, the two MPs blamed George Soros’s NGO for the destruction of the Russian education system, manifested in the much-criticized system of single state exams for schoolchildren as well as underfinancing of schools and institutes.
The Law on Undesirable Foreign Groups that came into force earlier this week charges the Prosecutor General’s Office together with the Foreign Ministry with the task of creating an official list of “undesirable foreign organizations” and outlaw their activities in the country. The main criterion for putting a foreign or international NGO on the list is “the threat to the Constitutional order and the defense capability or security of the Russian State.”
Once the group is recognized as undesirable all its assets in Russia must be frozen, offices closed and distribution of any of its information materials must be banned. Violating the bill is punished with heavy fines both for the personnel of the banned organizations and Russian citizens who cooperate with them. A repeat offense can carry up to six years in prison.
From the moment it was drafted, the new law was sharply criticized by the Russian rights community, foreign NGOs and officials. The European Union and the United States have officially expressed their concern over it and warned that the move banning cooperation with various foreign groups could bring about the isolation of the Russian people from the outside world.
The two opposition MPs who originally drafted the bill have described it as a preventive measure and denied that it was targeting any specific foreign organizations.
The Open Society Institute, also known as the Soros Foundation after its main sponsor, US billionaire George Soros, has worked in Russia since 1995 and financed many projects in the humanitarian and educational spheres. In 2003, the organization stopped issuing direct grants and announced that it had stopped all Russian operations but to this day it maintains representative offices in Russia’s four largest cities – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Novosibirsk.
George Soros has openly admitted that his organizations played a key role in the so called “color revolutions” – forceful regime changes through violent political rallies – in many post-Soviet states, including Ukraine and Georgia.
Earlier this month a group of hackers from Ukraine released some leaked texts that show that Soros was still actively involved in the Ukrainian politics, advocating EU financial aid and military assistance to Ukraine to restore Kiev’s fighting capacity without violating the Minsk peace deal.