Russia's Attorney General has declared two groups started by billionaire George Soros, the Open Society Foundations and OSI Assistance Foundation, to be "undesirable organizations" in Russia. Officials say these organizations pose a threat to the country's "constitutional order." In accordance with Russia's new "law on undesirable organizations," the two groups are now outlawed.
“This decision was made in connection with an appeal by the Federation Council of the Russian Federation to the Attorney General, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Justice, regarding a review of organizations on the so-called ‘patriotic stop-list,’” a spokesperson for the Attorney General's office told Interfax.
The Open Society Foundations has been active in Russia since the 1990s. In 2003, the organization significantly scaled back its operations in Russia, which focused on education programs.
In July 2015, the upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council, drafted a so-called “patriotic stop list,” drawing up a list of organizations considered to pose a threat to Russian interests. The stop-list serves as a recommended registry for including organizations on yet another list—the official “undesirable organizations” list.
The “undesirable organizations” list was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in May 23. According to the law, foreign and international organizations can be declared “undesirable” or “threatening to the basic constitutional order of the Russian Federation, its defense capability, or its state security.” The Attorney General has the power to declare an organization undesirable without court proceedings. If an organization falls under this category, it will be forced to shut down and will be forbidden from holding public events and from possessing or distributing promotional materials, including through the media. Employees of “undesirables” may face criminal proceedings if they fail to comply with orders, and heads of the organizations can face prison sentences of up to 6 years.