Open Society Foundations to Continue Grantmaking in Russia

Open Society Foundations to Continue Grantmaking in Russia

Despite being placed on a "patriotic stop list" of foreign nongovernmental organizations that could be designated as "undesirable" and banned from the country, the Open Society Foundations has announced that it will continue to support its grantees in Russia.

In a statement on the foundation's website, OSF president and CEO Chris Stone wrote, "In recent days, several voices in Russia have called for the Open Society Foundations to be banned from work in Russia as a so-called undesirable organization, but as of this writing, the Russian authorities have not done so, and we are continuing to support many Russian organizations that seek our assistance to participate actively as part of their society. We are determined to continue to support those who seek our assistance in accordance with our mission and within the limits of the law."

Out of the seven U.S.-based NGOs on the list, which was made public in mid-July, only the National Endowment for Democracy has been declared "undesirable" — defined by the Russian government as presenting "a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defense capability of the country, or the security of the state." Two other organizations on the list have announced policy changes: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has decided to close its Moscow office, while the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has announced it would put its activities in the country on hold.

"Russia today is something very different from what I was hoping it would become," said OSF founder George Soros in an accompanying video featuring the leaders of local nonprofits the foundation has supported. "[But] the yearning for freedom and certain principles have survived underground, so feeding it helps to have the next flowering. And the more there is below ground, the better the chances when it comes out."

Chris Stone. "Our Commitment to an Open Society in Russia." Open Society Foundations Statement 08/07/2015.