The office of Russia’s Prosecutor General announced on Monday that Russian citizens are banned from working with George Soros’ Open Society Institute and Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation.
Soros, a politically progressive billionaire investor and philanthropist, was listed by Bloomberg earlier this year as the 25th richest person in the world.
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A statement by Russia’s top prosecutor declared the Soros foundations to be threats to Russia’s national security and constitutional system.
Under the Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations, which passed in June of this year, Russia’s Prosecutor General has the power to declare certain international organizations undesirable. Once such a declaration has been made, Russia’s Justice Ministry will freeze the organization in question’s locally-held assets, prohibit the distribution of its promotional materials, and close down its office space. Russian citizens who work with a banned organization could face fines or prison time.
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RT notes, “Prosecutors launched a probe into the activities of the two organizations – both sponsored by the well-known US financier George Soros – in July this year, after Russian senators approved the so-called ‘patriotic stop-list’ of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Other groups on the list included the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House. In late July, the Russian Justice Ministry recognized the US National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group after prosecutors discovered the US NGO had spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of national military service.”
Suggesting that the move may be largely symbolic or preventative, Zero Hedge wrote, “It is doubtful that Soros still has any active assets in Russia – his foundation, which emerged in Russia in its early post-USSR years in the mid-1990s, wrapped up active operations in 2003 when Putin cemented his control on power.“