What did the Soros Foundation do for science, education and culture of Russia? - ForumDaily
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What did the Soros Foundation do for science, education and culture of Russia

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia recognized the Open Society and Assistance funds, founded by the American financier George Soros, as “undesirable organizations.” According to the Russian authorities, the activities of these funds threaten the constitutional order of the country. Almost for 30 years of work in Russia, Soros invested about a billion dollars in the development of Russian science, education, culture, medicine and civil society. The main areas of work of Soros organizations in Russia are described below.

George Soros, the American investment banker on 30’s list of the richest people on the planet, first came to Moscow in 1987. Shortly before this, the offices of his foundation opened in South Africa, Hungary and China. Soros supported intellectuals and students, sponsored humanitarian, cultural and scientific projects. Soros considered his main mission to be the change of closed societies (in particular, in countries with a communist system) “open societies” that would normally interact with the Western world. He tried to promote reforms that never happened.

The first organization to distribute the money of Soros in the USSR was the Foundation for Cultural Initiative, it was established in 1988 year. The expert council of the foundation, which consisted of Soviet citizens, considered applications for entrepreneurial, educational and other projects - and decided whether to support them with money; at the same time, profit making was not a necessary condition for financing. The fund received thousands of applications. On the initiative of the Director of the Civil Society program, Gleb Pavlovsky, Soros sponsored the distribution of computers, copiers and faxes throughout the country.

A few years later, the “Cultural Initiative” closed down - Soros was unhappy with the way the fund was managed: in his words, the “open society” was built by a closed society of people with a Soviet mentality. However, the "Open Society" institute replaced the "Initiative". In 1990, Soros began to invest substantially more money in Russian projects. The main directions in the first stage were science and education.

Science: on 500 dollars to scientists and the first scientific grants

At the beginning of 1990, Russian science was in a monstrous state: scholars literally did not have enough to live, many, the most demanded, left to work abroad. The Soviet distribution system collapsed, research projects were not actually funded. At this point, Soros agreed to allocate more than 100 million dollars to help Russian science.

The money was distributed through the International Science Foundation (MNF), whose board was headed by Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who discovered the structure of DNA. In the 1993 year, the MNF allocated approximately 25 to thousands of scientists on 500 dollars as one-time assistance - for those times a lot of money. The MNF presented only two conditions: it was necessary to work in the theoretical field and to have at least three scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals over the past five years.

Shortly thereafter, the MNF announced that it was ready to finance research projects of research groups from the countries of the former USSR. The fund received more than 16 thousands of applications.

According to a member of the board of the fund, biophysicist Valery Soifer, this project turned out to be a very important impetus for all Russian science - and not only because of money: former Soviet scientists gradually got used to the grant system, learned to write applications.

Laboratories purchased equipment and reagents for money from Soros, about 120 scientific libraries replenished their funds. Finally, scientists paid for trips to scientific conferences around the world — and this was also extremely important for those who were just learning to interact with the world scientific community.

Education: Soros professors, teacher conferences and Olympiads

In 1994, under the leadership of the same Valery Soifer, the International Educational Science Program began to work in Russia. Her budget was over 100 million dollars. The Soros Foundation for 11 years, starting with 1994, paid monthly scholarships to the best professors, associate professors, graduate students, students and school teachers. Professors, for example, received 500 dollars per month, while the average salary in Russia was about 17 dollars.

Soros scholarship holders were indeed the best of the best, thanks to rigorous selection methods, excluding any patronage. Say, to find the best school teachers, thousands of students were interviewed by 340 across the country. The right to scholarships were received by those who gained a certain number of votes.

With the money of Soros in Russia, teachers' conferences were held, during which teachers met with well-known professors, shared ideas and discussed problems. Olympiads were held among the students, the program of which was different from the state one. The textbooks for secondary school that were in demand by teachers were republished with Soros' money - the circulation exceeded half a million copies.

Internet: free access to the network for scientists, students and doctors

The Internet project of the Open Society Institute has been working for five years - since 1996. During this time, Internet centers have opened at 33 Russian universities. The foundation paid for the equipment, the salary of the specialists and the traffic. The project spent 100 million dollars. Any student or teacher could come and get free internet access - for many it was the first acquaintance with the Network.

Civil society: support for journalists and non-profit organizations

From the very beginning, Cultural Initiative and the Open Society Institute were supported by Russian non-profit organizations (NPOs) and independent media. Valery Soifer recalled that during the August putsch, when perhaps the only source of reliable information about what was happening in the country was the very young radio station Ekho Moskvy, Soros ordered to buy recording equipment for its journalists.

Later, support for independent media became systematic. This also applied to NGOs - they gave money for human rights, educational and humanitarian projects. In 2013, assistance was received from the foundation by human rights centers Memorial, Agora, the Committee Against Torture and others. Many NGOs that received money from Soros were later recognized as “foreign agents”.

Culture: Pushkin Library and Contemporary Art Centers

“Pushkin Library” is one of the so-called “megaprojects” of the Open Society Institute. Since 1998, the foundation has been purchasing books for hundreds of libraries across the country, inviting local authorities to participate in the project. The project supported the "thick magazines" - "New World", "Star", "Banner" and others. Pushkin Library is one of many Soros projects that continued to work after Soros stopped funding them (another such project is the charitable foundation of culture and art Pro Arte, which opened in St. Petersburg in 1999 year).

However, the work of the Open Society was important not only for “megaprojects”, but also for small, not very noticeable things: Russian museums and libraries often asked Soros for money for one-time exhibitions or website support. The last contribution of the Open Society to the development of Russian culture was the restoration of the Museum of the History of Collectivization and the house of Pavlik Morozov in the village of Gerasimovka, Sverdlovsk Region.

Forum previously reported that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office recognized unwanted organizations "Open Society" and the Foundation "Assistance" billionaire George Soros. The Prosecutor General’s Office has established that the activities of these organizations pose a threat to the constitutional structure of Russia.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin asked The Council for Science and Education to draw attention to foreign funds that sponsor the travel of Russian schoolchildren abroad and their training in foreign universities.

“We all know, probably, and maybe someone doesn’t know, the so-called foreign funds for schools work, network organizations simply“ fumble ”at schools in the Russian Federation for many years under the guise of supporting talented youth. In fact, how vacuuming sucked is simple and that’s it. Already directly from the school, applicants are taken and put on grants and taken away. Therefore, it is also necessary to pay attention to this, ”Putin said at a meeting of the Council for Science and Education in the Kremlin.

In response, users of social networks reacted tough sarcasm.

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