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George Soros' Pet Projects Include Overthrowing a Government

12/7/2003 - 5:00 AM PST

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Financier's Radical Social Programs Aim at Changing Society

NEW YORK, DEC. 6, 2003 (Zenit) - The recent overthrow of Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze put billionaire financier George Soros back in the headlines. Voices soon circulated that the Open Society Institute, the philanthropic foundation established by George Soros, was one of the major players in the power changeover in the former Soviet republic. In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa on Wednesday, Shevardnadze himself accused Soros of being behind his fall from power.

Indeed, the Open Society Institute financed trips for Georgian political activists to learn from the experience of the Otpor movement that helped topple Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. According to a Nov. 26 report in the Canadian daily The Globe and Mail, the young group Kmara! also received $500,000 from the foundation last April, and simultaneously began a poster-and-graffiti campaign attacking government corruption. Last summer, the foundation paid for trips to Georgia by Otpor activists, who ran courses teaching more than 1,000 students how to stage a peaceful revolution.

Soros' foundation also funded a popular opposition television station that, according to the Globe and Mail, was crucial in mobilizing support for Shevardnadze's fall from power. And Soros himself, reported the article, "has a warm relationship" with Mikhail Saakashvili, a New York-educated lawyer who is a favorite for Georgia's presidential elections next Jan. 4.

Soros also has his heart set on seeing another president out of office: George Bush. "It is the central focus of my life," Soros said in a Nov. 11 report in the Washington Post. The financier declared that seeing Bush defeated in the next presidential elections is "a matter of life and death."

The article came just after Soros announced a $5 million donation to MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group. This brought to $15.5 million the total of his contributions to the organization so far. His interest in U.S. domestic politics is recent. According to the Post, Soros gave a mere $122,000, mostly to Democratic causes and candidates, in the 2000 elections.

Lavishing on the left

The Open Society Institute is, in the words of its 2002 annual report, "the hub of the Soros foundations network, a group of autonomous foundations and organizations in more than 50 countries."

According to the report, Soros founded the Open Society Institute in 1993 to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In more recent years the network has expanded its reach to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, Turkey and the United States.

In the past, Soros' financing of radical social initiatives has raised eyebrows. The February and April issues of the Capital Research Center's bulletin, Foundation Watch, presented a roundup of this funding. According to the Washington, D.C.-based organization, the Open Society Institute "lavishes donations on liberal political advocacy groups and activists of the radical Left."

Based on the foundation's annual reports, the Capital Research Center noted a number of particular grants. Many of them involve political groups and activists. But other areas of interest include contraception, abortion and feminism.

From 1998 to 2003, the Open Society Institute gave no fewer than 150 grants, worth $31 million, to pro-abortion programs. Major recipients include Planned Parenthood, which received almost $1 million in 2001. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, now called NARAL Pro-Choice America, received $700,000 for a television ad program. And the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy received $1.5 million.

Another area of interest is legalization of drugs. Soros gave $4 million over a five-year period from 1994 to the Lindesmith Center, described by Foundation Watch as "a pro-marijuana legalization think tank." Three years ago the Lindesmith Center merged with another Soros-funded body, the Drug Policy Foundation, to form the Drug Policy Alliance. In 2000 the Open Society Institute gave about $3.5 million to the latter.

In past years Soros financed marijuana legalization initiatives that failed in Arizona and California. And other groups active in relaxing laws on drug use, such as Drug Strategies and the American Civil Liberties Union, have received multimillion-dollar donations.

Euthanasia is another Soros project. Starting in 1994 the Open Society Institute helped finance the activities of the Project on Death in America. In 2000 the foundation awarded the organization a three-year $15 million grant. According to the Capital Research Center, "Soros' goal is to transform American attitudes toward death by changing public attitudes about ...

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