George Soros: Russia, Ukraine, and the Battle of Ideals

 

George Soros, founder of the philanthropic organization known as the Open Society Foundation, seems to have come under fire from the Russian government.

A recent article by CNBC reports a mass book burning at Vokura Mining and Economic College in Russia. The target of the burning was a collection of books and writings connected with the Open Society Foundation. Russia has labeled writings from the organization “undesirable” and has deemed any literature by the pro-democracy organization a security threat to the country.

Perhaps that was to be expected. Founded in 1979 by Soros himself, the Open Society Foundation has actively supported the transition from communism to democracy. According to the organization’s website, the Open Society Foundation prides itself on supporting a more transparent and democratic government. It is not difficult to see why the Russian regime may not be the biggest of fans.

These are not the first of Soros’ writings that have offended the Russian government. Soros himself has spoken out quite vehemently against any Russian involvement in Ukraine. In an October 2015 article featured in NY Review of Books, Soros discusses his ideas on the links between Europe, Ukraine, and Russia. Soros believes that the best path that Europe can take is to make Ukraine a priority before the country becomes an economic burden like that of Greece in 2008. By taking a proactive strategy now, Soros writes that Europe can come down hard and strong against Russia. Soros believe that a combination of effective assistance for Ukraine and heavy sanctions against Russia would make Ukraine a healthier and more popular place for global companies to invest. With all of the benefits of a free market economy, Soros reasons that the people of Ukraine would listen much less to Russian propaganda. Additionally, the more stable Ukraine would work in favor of the value of the Euro. Soros writes that the downside of all of this is that Russian President Vladmir Putin is willing to risk nuclear war to protect Russia’s interests in Ukraine whereas the Ukrainian allies seem keen to avoid conflict with Russia at all costs.

Perhaps all of this was really the fuel that led to the burning of 53 books as well as the seizure of an additional 427 books from the school library in northern Russia. George Soros and the Open Society Foundation seem to have struck a nerve with the Russian government, and it seems unlikely that it will be forgotten any time soon.