Politics

Soros’ Charity May Fall Victim To Russia’s NGO Crackdown

The Kremlin is considering implementing a ban on foreign non-governmental organizations which promote democracy.

Russia’s state-owned media service, TASS, reported that a number of NGOs may be banned, with hedge fund billionaire George Soros’s foundation a potential victim, writes Katy Barnato for CNBC.

Soros' Charity May Fall Victim To Russia's NGO Crackdown

“Soros Foundation” one of 12 organizations

TASS reports that the Federation Council is considering a “stop list” of organizations which it believes are responsible for “soft aggression” within Russia. The report refers to a “Soros Foundation” which is one of 12 organizations on the “patriotic ‘stop list’.”

It is thought that TASS is referring to the Open Society Foundations, which was founded by Soros. According to its website, the organization works to promote “vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.”  A spokesman for the Open Society Foundations did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

A number of U.S.-led organizations also feature on the list, including the National Endowment for Democracy, the MacArthur Foundation and the Freedom House, as well as the East European Democratic Center.

Russia increasing control of foreign organizations

The list consists of 7 U.S. organizations, 3 from Ukraine and 2 from Poland. The TASS report cited a draft decree which claimed that Russia was suffering an “attack on its national interests” which NGOs were complicit in. The decree claimed that the attack was an attempt at “undermining the patriotic unity” of Russia.

President Vladimir Putin signed a law in May which aims to control the activities of “unwelcome” organizations. The terms of the law dictate that any employee or collaborator will be fined, and could also be jailed for up to 6 years.

Since Vladimir Putin came to power, Russian authorities have been taking a harder line on any organizations which appear to criticize the Kremlin and its policies. As well as charitable organizations which promote democracy, media companies have also faced threats.

In May this year, Russia’s media watchdog told Google, Twitter and Facebook that they would be blocked if they did not hand over a list of names of bloggers that receive over 3,000 hits per day. The Kremlin is maintaining a tight hold on information within Russia, part of attempts to prevent the outbreak of mass protests.