What motivates George Soros

Russian ban ray against Soros

The Russian public prosecutor's office forbids billionaire George Soros's foundations from being active in the country in the future. In this way she tries to silence critical voices.

The US State Department reacted with “great concern” to the Russian decision to put two non-governmental organizations run by billionaire George Soros on the list of “undesirable organizations”. The Foreign Ministry said Russia was continuing to crack down on independent voices in the country, increasingly isolating its people from the rest of the world. On Monday afternoon, the Russian prosecutor's office said that Soros's Open Society Foundations and OSI Assistance Foundation were endangering Russia's national security.

Red rag for Russia

The controversial billionaire and speculator George Soros is known for his support for democratization in Eastern Europe. Since the 1980s, his foundations have reportedly spent $ 1.6 billion on promoting democracy in the region. For Russia, the support of his foundation for democracy activists and “colored revolutions” in countries like Ukraine or Georgia is a red rag. For years he has been portrayed in the Russian state media as a diabolical puller who undermines national identities with his money and - presumably on behalf of the USA - creates political changes and unrest with geopolitical motivation. Last but not least, there are anti-Semitic prejudices against Soros, who comes from a Jewish family in Hungary.

It is undisputed that Soros personally has little sympathy for Russia. This year he spoke out in public for aid payments worth billions and debt relief for Ukraine in order to reduce Russia's influence. Russian allegations that he had significantly financed the “Euromaidan” in Kiev are greatly exaggerated. In addition, the Soros Foundations always provide transparent information about their activities - in contrast, for example, to the support of the Russian government for activists of all stripes in their sphere of influence.

Important actor

In Russia itself, the work of the Soros Foundations goes far beyond promoting democracy. Active in the country for 20 years, its foundations are important players in the fields of education, culture and human rights. By 2003 alone, they had spent nearly a billion dollars in the country. The programs financed included connecting 33 universities to the Internet and grants for almost 65,000 researchers. The Soros Foundations also invested 100 million dollars in Russian libraries. This engagement was made necessary by the state failure in post-Soviet Russia.

Today, thanks to billions in oil and greater political centralization, the situation of cultural institutions is no longer as desolate as it was in the 1990s. For this reason, among other things, the Soros Foundations have not had a direct presence in Russia since 2003, but act in the background as donors for Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These are largely financed by foreign donations, which is a thorn in the side of the Russian government and is the motivation for the ban on the Soros foundations.

Government ban beam

Since Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency in 2012, the Russian government has been impeding the work of critical civil society organizations in Russia with a series of laws. On the one hand, local NGOs are forced to register as “foreign agents” if they accept foreign support. On the other hand, the government is drying up their sources of money. In July, the Federation Council, the Russian upper house, presented the public prosecutor with a so-called “patriotic stop list” of 12 foreign organizations for examination. The Open Society Foundations and OSI Assistance Foundation were on that list, along with other well-known names like Freedom House.

As early as July, the first organization on this list, the National Endowment for Democracy funded by the American Congress, was declared “undesirable”. The Soros Foundations have now been added. You will no longer be allowed to work in Russia in the future; if you violate this rule, your employees face fines and up to six years in prison. Despite the fatal verdict for his organizations, George Soros was optimistic in an initial reaction: “We are confident that this step is a temporary misstep. The hopes of the Russian people for a better future cannot be suppressed and will be fulfilled in the end. "

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