Open Society Foundations 'Banned' From Russia

Russia has banned the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation from the country, saying they pose a threat to Russia's constitutional system and state security, Reuters reports.

In a statement released on Monday, Russia's General Prosecutor's Office said the two organizations would be placed on a "stop list" of foreign nongovernmental organizations whose activities have been deemed "undesirable" by the state. "It was found that the activity of the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation represents a threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the security of the state," said the statement. While the statement did not elaborate on the organizations' "undesirable" activities, Reuters notes that last January OSF founder George Soros urged the West to increase its aid to Ukraine, outlining a $50 billion financing package as a defense against an increasingly aggressive Russia.

In a press release, OSF said it was "dismayed" by the decision. "In the past, our efforts have been welcomed by Russian officials and citizens," the foundation said, "and we regret the changes that have led the government to reject our support to Russian civil society and ignore the aspirations of the Russian people."

In August, OSF announced that despite being put on a list of NGOs that could be designated as "undesirable,"  it would continue to support its grantees there. Of the six other U.S.-based NGOs on the list, the National Endowment for Democracy also has been declared "undesirable," while the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has decided to close its Moscow office and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has announced that it would put its activities in Russia on hold.

"We are confident that this move is a temporary aberration," said Soros. "[T]he aspirations of the Russian people for a better future cannot be suppressed and will ultimately succeed."

"Russia Cracks Down on Open Society." Open Society Foundations Press Release 11/30/2015. Jennifer Ablan. "Russia Bans George Soros Foundation as State Security 'Threat'." Reuters 11/30/2015.