Soros Returns: How His “Undesirable Organization” Works in Russia

Translated by Ollie Richardson



In August 2016, on the website of the hacker group DC Leaks, known for releasing into the public domain emails of high-ranking officials from around the world, published the archives of internal information of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Life analysed this data and found out that the Foundation, which was recognized by the State Office of the Public Prosecutor at the end of 2015 as “undesirable”, still continues to work on the territory of the Russian Federation, and to build long-term strategy of influence on the country’s domestic policy.

Beyond the law

According to information published on the hacker website, since 2012 the Open Society Foundation has conducted the monitoring of Russian Human Rights Organizations regarding the probability of their inclusion of a number of foreign agents. These are NGOs that applied for foreign financing.

At the same time it should be noted that this monitoring begun even before the adoption of the law, which gave time for the development of models of financing Russian NGOs in circumvention of the law on “foreign agents”.

So, in particular, in internal documents of the Soros Foundation it speaks about which NGOs were assumed to be registered as foreign agents and who was going to receive further foreign financing but didn’t plan on registering with the specified status.

Also, the published emails of the “Open Society” refer to specific organisations that submitted applications and petitions to deputies where “their voters didn’t authorize them to adopt such laws”. In particular, the charity foundation “Mother’s Right” made such statement.

Perspective cooperation


It should be noted that for 2014-2017 the Soros Foundation developed a strategy for work in Russia named Russia Project Strategy (RPS).

“We will continue support in three key areas: human rights, access to wide independent information, and the creation of platforms for critical debate and discussions. The plan of RPS is to provide key support of the partners financed by us in all these areas by investment into their growth and development and to remain thus flexible in the funding mechanisms necessary for continuation of the main work done by them.”

The role of RPS is the “creation of a dense and large-scale field of independent subjects of civil society“.

They at best can create conditions for the democratic development of Russia, and at worst — survive in the conditions of draconian legislation,” it is said in the document.

The strategy also notes that the Foundation has to remain flexible in financing for Russian recipients that don’t fall under the law on “foreign agents”.

“As the legal situation for the foreign financed NGOs worsens, our support for the leading players in these areas has to be flexible, and also has to react to promptly changing circumstances. Now we conduct work on an assessment of degree of risk of various alternative funding mechanisms — including support of the commercial organizations and affiliated NGOs outside Russia — to guarantee that necessary work in Russia will be freely continued.”

Friends forever

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Key partners of the Soros Foundation, as appears in the emails hacked by hackers, are such non-profit organizations as “Public verdict”, “Man and Law”, “Agora”, “Memorial”, “Center for social and labor rights”, “Levada Centre”, the Moscow center of Carnegie, Sova Center, Sakharov Center, and the Intellectual movement “Lebed”.

The Perm center “Grani” is considered as a representative platform for critical debate and discussions. Also it is noted that the financing that goes to analytical centers, such as the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE), will provide financial stability.

About 60% of organizational financing of the “Grani” center comes from analytical and research contracts for clients, such as NRU HSE. This contract work provides organizational support and financial stability, and the project financing comes from international and domestic funds – Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Open Society Foundation, the Evolution and Philanthropy company, and also the Agency for Social Information and The Perm regional and municipal government and the Russian Ministry of economic development.

Note that part of the NGOs that were mentioned in Soros’ project still aren’t recognized as foreign agents. For example, “Levada Center”, Moscow Center of Carnegie, NRU HSE, Vladimir intellectual movement “Lebed”, etc.

Soros’ charm

As is shown in the emails of Soros Foundation’s staff published on DCLeaks, they also studied their options in case the Russian authorities “pressed” the NGOs. So, in particular, it is noted that the Soros foundation “will use all opportunities for foreign promotion, and will also assume payment of all penalties connected with activity of the organizations supported by it“.

“We probably need to limit our activities for monitoring of lawsuits and violations, supporting the organizations in transition of their work abroad, and also to participate in various forms of international information and propaganda activity in close cooperation with the Russian partners. We will also continue to finance legal aid everywhere where it is possible, and we will consider payment of penalties in the most difficult cases.”

Why all this is necessary?

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The emails of the Soros foundation concerning Russia contains quite remarkable recognition of why structures of the billionaire pay so close attention to our country. Functionaries of “Open Society” specify that in the Russian policy on the international arena places emphasis on the advance of traditional values that is contrary to the western world order and understanding of human rights.

Why is Open Society Foundation financing in Russia still important? The problem is as follows: the Russian tactic picked up by Central Asia, Russia’s influence in the Council of the UN for Human Rights, and participation of Russia in global international structures gives the Russian Federation opportunities to change the international frontiers,” it is told in one of the memorandums appearing in emails of the Foundation’s staff.

Introduction of LGBT agenda


In the RPS strategy it is said that the Soros Foundation develops mechanisms of integration of the LGBT community into the Russian reality through independent NGOs and critical discussions on this subject, trying to thereby put pressure upon traditional Russian values.

“The rights of LGBT are a subject of critical discussion of the Russian public, and also public debate and discussions. It is one of the main strategic priorities of the program. We have a reliable network of partners from medical forums, for example, of discussion in the Sakharov Center, to online and analytical platforms, such as Open Democracy Russia. Progress will be estimated on attendance and attention of mass media, and also an Internet traffic, reposts, and critical discussion of LGBT questions in the Russian blogosphere.”

Independent NGOs that are supported by Soros, actively advance the agenda of LGBT and seek the maximum coverage of its audience, including on social networks:

“We already began campaigning for our partners. Only a few from them still pay priority attention to the rights of LGBT. Often it occurs because of shortage of both personnel and financial resources. We will then define an experimental group of the main partners in all sectors which have a great interest in cooperating with LGBT organizations,” the staff of the “Open Society” Foundation reports.

It should be noted that between 2013-2015, $1.7 million for activities for support of human rights in Russia were transferred from the Soros Foundation to the accounts of intermediary organizations.

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According to the authors who published the archive, “Soros stands behind each revolution and overthrowing of government in the world” for the last 25 years. He finances the Democrat party of the USA, sponsors Clinton’s election campaign, and endows money to hundreds of politicians around the world. In the archives are working plans, strategies, priority areas of work, and the description of other activities of Soros.

It is also necessary to note that fact that in the leaked Open Society Foundation emails, besides Russian NGOs already recognized as “foreign agents” in structures cooperating with Soros, also specified are organizations that still don’t have this status and do not appear in the corresponding Register of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. In the documents released by the hackers there is also a list of such NGOs that include: “Levada Center”, the Moscow center of Carnegie, NRU HSE, the Vladimir intellectual movement “Lebed”, the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Youth Human Rights Movement, Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization “Justice initiative — Astrey”.

As a reminder, the Foundation started working in Russia in 1995 under the guise of an international charitable organization. However, in November 2015 the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation recognized the Foundation as an undesirable organization in the territory of Russia.

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