Two non-profit organizations that George Soros has established have been banned outright by the Russian government. In a university in Russia’s northern region of Komi, the Russian government seized 53 books related to a George Soros foundation and burned them. 427 more books have been confiscated by the Russian government and are prepared to be shredded. The Russian government has accused George Soros and his foundations of skewing history, promoting disorder and claimed that his organizations posed a grave security threat to the Russian Federation.
George Soros, who is a former hedge fund manager is considered to be one of the wealthiest people in the world with a net worth estimated to be well over $20 billion dollars. He had two institutions in Russia, The Open Society Foundation and the Open Society Institute. Both of his institutions were banned in Russia for undermining the government and according to them “posing a security risk to the people and state of Russia.” After banning the two non-profits the Russian government went ahead and burned, seized and shredded books from a university library that were part of the Humanitarian Education program there.
Does the Russian government have any merit in their claims that the Open Society Foundation poses a threat to the state and distorts Russian history? Let’s take a look at the Open Society Foundation. Created in 1979, the OSF and OSI were founded to help promote the transition of formerly communist nations into democracy and free markets. They also promote education, health care, free speech and and human rights in dozens of countries around the world now.
The OSF and OSI were involved in educational programs in Russia that promoted human rights, freedom of expression, a free press and healthcare and education within Russia. Such ideas are constantly cracked down upon by the Russian state led by current president Vladimir Putin. Do such ideas actually pose a threat to the security and well being of the Russian people? It is highly unlikely. These ideas do pose a threat to totalitarian regimes that censor the media and use force and even killings to silence the opposition though. This is the real reason why OSF and OSI were banned and later books connected to them or any programs they funded seized and destroyed.
It may be hard to fathom, but Russia is not a free and democratic country that many of us believe to be. There is still oppression there and critics of the government are silenced, jailed, or simply “disappear.”
The Open Society Foundation led by George Soros expressed its disappointment with the Russian government of banning its organizations within the country. The OSF used to be welcome by both the state and people. Now it is considered dangerous and undesirable. The OSF also issued an official statement in response to the ban and accusations made by Russia’s government. They believe that the aspirations of the Russian people for greater democracy, freedom and livelihoods will be heard and cannot be suppressed for long and that their voices will be heard. The OSF also replied that their programs strengthened rule of law and civility within the country and not undermined it.