Eastern Europe

Books Donated by George Soros’ Foundation Burned in Russia


Dozens of books about humanitarian education were burned in a northern Russian republic by officials seeking to enforce a restriction against the Open Society Foundations. According to a news report filed by Kalyeena Makortoff of CNBC, the book burning incident took place in the Komi Republic.

The Open Society Foundations is a non-profit network founded by billionaire investor George Soros, whose philanthropic work dates back to the late 1970s. Soros has always advocated for democracy, civil liberties, personal freedoms, access to education, government accountability, transparency, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

The incident, which evokes a dystopian vision straight out of the pages of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, unfolded in early January and was confirmed by an official letter by education officials in the Komi Republic.

More than 400 other books allegedly provided by the Open Society Foundations were seized from the libraries of industrial colleges in the Komi Republic. These books will later be shredded.

News reports have confirmed that the Open Society Foundations have been marked in Russia as charities that promote ideologies contrary to what the Kremlin considers to be the Russian way of life. However, the Federal Ministry of Culture has taken exception to the book burning and has ordered an investigation. According to a report by the TASS news agency, book burning is not something that the Culture Ministry condones.

In Russia, affiliates of the Open Society Foundations promote critical thinking among the population of a country that is still transitioning from a totalitarian regime to a democracy. Historically, Soros has been interested in disseminating information that empowers democracy and freedoms; to this effect, in the 1980s he distributed Xerox machines in Eastern Bloc regions for the purpose of copying texts that had been prohibited by communist regimes.

As of mid-January, neither Soros nor the Open Society Foundations had commented on the matter.