Soros György Ur and his underlings have overstayed their welcome in Russia: the country’s government has summoned Vanessa Kogan, the director of the Stichting Justice Initiative project, to inform her that she has two weeks to leave the country. Her residency permit has been revoked.
The fact Ms. Kogan decided to inform Britain’s The Guardian newspaper about this (as she feels) outrage says almost all about why Russia’s government felt the country had enough of her presence.
Herewith a bit of detail: the Stichting Justice Initiative is a Non-Government Organization (NGO for short). According to its own promotional literature, it provides legal support to Russians in cases of perceived human rights abuses.
Russian authorities seem to have found puzzling the less-than-open information regarding the group’s funding. It used to admit that it got its money from Soros György Ur, using the billionaire’s Open Society.
Russian government had declared Open Society a pressure group and, having declared it ‘undesirable,’ banned it from Russia altogether five years ago.
Not that this would be the first time Soros György Ur had suffered similar ignominy.
The government of his native Hungary had declared Soros György Ur and all his works ‘non grata,’ (unwelcome), and threw the lot out years ago.
A special case?
Ms. Kogan has felt the treatment she received equalled cruel and unusual punishment. She has lived in Russia the last ten years. And not only that: she has shared her affections with a Russian national and they now have two children together.
Absolutely not, replied Dmitri Anatolyevich Medvedev, who used to serve his country as a prime minister, and filled the four-year void when Russian president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin had to step down from his office because he had served two terms. Everything returned to Putin’s normal after those four years, Putin restored his presidency and Medvedev would return to his prime ministership.
As things stand now, Medvedev has become Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia.
Kogan’s attention had been focused on the North Caucasus region.
A volatile area, to say the least. Kogan and her group had sided with people alleging both local and federal authorities abused their rights
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Republic of Chechnya, was upset: Kogan and her group caused tensions in the majority Muslim areas, he said.
Medvedev would elaborate. As quoted by Russian government-controlled RT network, he said (in RT’s verbatim translation) that well-funded foreign groups were using networks in Russia to “exacerbate the internal political situation in certain regions, including through Russian non-profit groups they associate with.”
These NGOs, according to Medvedev, “depend on internet media, and use various far-fetched reasons for rewriting the events of our national history.”
So far as Russia’s Security Council was concerned, a “large-scale information campaign, being conducted to discredit the leadership of some specific territories and Federal Subjects,” Medvedev explained.
In November, Russia’s lower house of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (State Duma, or Государственная Дума Федерального Собрания Российской Федерации in Russian) debated new legislation in order to make sure that the definition of foreign agents becomes more specific (and enhanced, to boot). The idea was that the label should be available not only to describe NGOs and media organizations, but ordinary citizens, too.
Whether Russia took its clue from the U.S. remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that Russian authorities mentioned (unofficially) a case that happened across the Big Pond in 2018: Maria Butina, a Russian citizen, was arrested on the allegations that she had infiltrated American conservative-leaning organizations. Her goal was, according to the allegations, to promote better ties between Washington and the Kremlin.
Who was behind this case? Some say that what is now known as Deep State considered Butina’s case a prima facie detail confirming President Donald J. Trump’s allegedly illegal ties to Russia.
None of it matters any longer as the claim of Russian interference in the 2016 elections has been proven as a hoax, but it still cost Ms. Butina five months behind American bars, some of them in solitary confinement, before deportation to Russia.
The Americans used a status of an undeclared foreign agent to charge Butina, and the Russians seem to have found this status wonderfully acceptable.
What’s wrong with Soros?
So far as the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office goes, they declared Soros György Ur’s Open Society Institute (and another affiliated organization) undesirable. Russian citizens and organizations are banned from participation in any of their projects.
In 2015, Russian prosecutors said that the activities of the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation were “a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security.”
The Justice Ministry would be duly informed, the Prosecutor General’s Office said. The Justice Ministry then would add these two groups to Russia’s list of undesirable foreign organizations.
In addition to the Soros György Ur organization, Russia’s Senators approved what they called a “patriotic stop-list. It includes a dozen groups requiring what they termed as immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Among the other groups on the list: the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House.
The Russian Justice Ministry would recognize the US National Endowment for Democracy as an undesirable group: the American NGO had allegedly spent millions on attempts to question the legitimacy of Russian elections and tarnish the prestige of national military service (in Russian prosecutors’ language)..
In any case, the Law on Undesirable Foreign Organizations came into force in 2015. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry have been ordered by the lawmakers to draw up an official list of undesirable foreign organizations and outlaw their activities. Once a group is recognized as undesirable, its assets in Russia must be frozen, its offices closed and they must not distribute any of its materials any longer.
The personnel of the outlawed groups and any Russian citizens cooperating with them could face heavy fines, or even prison terms, for violation of these orders.