Open Society Foundations will stay in Russia, even though ‘several voices’ have called for the group to be banned as an ‘undesirable organization’.
‘We are continuing to support many Russian organizations that seek our assistance to participate actively as part of their society,’ the OSF said in a statement on its website, adding that authorities have not blocked its activities.
The OSF has worked for more than a quarter century in Russia, helping to finance a network of internet centres in 33 universities, financing Russian scholars’ travel and study abroad, developing early-childhood education curricula and creating a network of contemporary art centres.
At the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians viewed their country in ‘shades of white and black – Soviet governance was viewed as black and the move toward more open society, white’, OSF founder George Soros says in a video on the group’s website. As the country moved toward more open society, attitudes changed to shades of gray. ‘Now you have a new form of what you might call closed society,’ he says.
Other civil society leaders interviewed in the video speak of building democratic society from scratch – highlighting its rise and fall.
‘We have civil society, which we never had in the Soviet period,’ Olga Sidorovich, director of the Institute of Law and Public Policy in Moscow, says on the video.
Soros says the ‘yearning for freedom, for certain principles, has survived underground. Feeding it has helped it blossom. The more there is below ground, the more chance it will come out.’