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16 апреля 2024
Paolo Sorbello, photo from undp.org

The Soros Foundation Closes Its Chapter in Kyrgyzstan

The Foundation said draconian legislation against “foreign agent” pushed them out

The Soros Foundation Closes Its Chapter in Kyrgyzstan

The Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan, a branch of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) headquartered in New York, said on April 15 that it would phase down its operations more than three decades after opening their Bishkek office.

In a press release, OSF said the new legislation targeting organizations that receive foreign funding has limited the scope of its operations, exposing their activities to legal risks.

“Over the following three decades, the foundation provided over $115 million in funding for a wide range of projects working with both government and civil society partners in the country,” the press release read.

“Regrettably, this new law means these efforts, aimed at benefiting the country, will be unjustly labeled as the work of ‘foreign representatives’.”

The law, in force since early April, aims to restrict the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as independent media, that receive foreign funding. Experts likened it to a law previously adopted in Russia.

A number of local and international government officials and NGOs had asked President Sadyr Japarov not to sign the bill into law. Japarov ignored the requests and said that NGOs “will continue their work. I guarantee that there will be no persecution.”

Dastan Bekeshev, a member of parliament, said the Soros Foundation had supported, among other things, inclusive education and healthcare projects.

“That’s why this law on foreign agents is stupid and harmful to the country,” Bekeshev tweeted. Bekeshev was one of the few deputies who voted against the bill.