The Russian government has banned two charities founded by billionaire investor George Soros, Fortune.com report. The official reason given by Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office is that the charities – the Open Society Foundation and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation – represent a threat to the “foundations of the constitutional system” of the Russian Federation and also the “security of the state.”
CNBC also reported that after the announcement more than 50 books related to the charities were burned in a college in northern Russia, according to Russian news reports. College libraries in the republic of Komi were raided and 53 books associated to the George Soros foundations were seized.
An additional 427 other books were also seized in order to be shredded, according to reports.
Some believe that this action is retribution against Soros because he urged leaders of the West to increase their aid to Ukraine, which has been subject to Russian aggression. Soros called for the West to contribute up to $50 billion to Ukraine in an effort to stop Russian inroads into the country.
Soros has been a target of the Russian government because his foundations actively finance opposition groups in the country. He is seen as a “puppet master” fostering revolutions of former Soviet states by the current Russian government.
The Open Society released a statement saying that despite the Russian government’s claims they have helped to protect the rights of all Russians and strengthen the Russian rule of law. They also regret that the current actions have hindered them in their support of “Russian civil society.”
In a separate statement Soros declared this action as a “temporary aberration” and that “the aspirations of the Russian people for a better future” will ultimately win out.
THe Open Society Foundations were founded by Soros in 1979 and are currently active in 70 countries around the world. In 2013 they closed their offices in Russia but has continued to fund many civil society organization in the country.
The Soros funded charities have been added to a list of “undesirable organizations” by the Russian government in an attempt to stop foreign governments for meddling in the affairs of Russia to secure their national security.
On its website The Open Society states that its mission is to “build vibrant and tolerant” societies around the world where the presiding government is open to the “participation of all people.” They also strive to create civil societies that “ keep government power in check.”