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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Soros slashes Russian aid
George Soros
The billionaire philanthropist George Soros has said he plans to drastically scale back his programme of charitable donations in Russia.

Mr Soros, who made his billions through currency trading and famously contributed to the 1992 sterling crisis, set up his Open Society Institute (OSI) foundation in Russia in 1988 to help create a so-called 'civil society'.

The foundation has spent over $1bn in the last 15 years, focusing particularly on education, science and the development of the internet.

It has also given money to scientists, artists, museums and AIDS prevention projects.

Mr Soros said he was not closing the foundation's Russian operations altogether, but would cut his donations significantly.

"We are simply stopping subsidising the Russian state," he said.

He is now concentrating on another nation he believes is in need of help with its civil society: the United States.

'Dangerous' state

"The struggle for a global open society must be fought primarily in the United States because the United States has clearly become the dominant power in the world.

Vladimir Putin (l) and George W Bush
Which state is in need of greater help?

"I feel that the current US administration is abusing its power by trying to increase that power instead of using it to try and create a more peaceful and equitable world."

Mr Soros added that he believed the US had used the September 11 attacks to extend its power too far.

"There are now two kinds of sovereignty in the world; the sovereignty of the United States, that overrides all international obligations and treaties, and the sovereignty of other countries which is subject to the Bush doctrine."

Moving on

The Soros Foundation Network operates in a number of countries and regions, including Kosovo, Montenegro and Southern and West Africa.

The OSI also has bases in Washington, New York, Brussels, Paris and Budapest.

Mr Soros said he would continue to be a "passive contributor" in Russia, but would leave Mr Putin's government to take on much of the work.

"The transition from a closed to an open society is far from complete," he said, but added that 15 years was enough time for the Soros Foundation to fund Russia's development.

He said he would downsize his investment from $25m a year to an average of $10m.

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