18 March, 2019 12:18

Soros, Open Society Foundations and Activities in Armenia

By Ani Grigoryan

In recent weeks, George Soros, an American businessman and philanthropist of Hungarian descent, and his Open Society Foundations (OSF), have been at the center of public discussions and debates in Armenia.

Organizations that have received grants from OSF are being accused of harming the state and provoking unnecessary protests. Nonetheless, a vast number of both state and non-governmental organizations in Armenia have benefited from funds given by the Foundations, which has been operating in the country since 1997.

Grant recipients include hundreds of schools, museums, theaters, almost all state and private universities, media outlets and non-governmental organizations. The grants have been allocated to projects related to women’s rights, public health, media, human rights, civil society development, education, arts and culture, libraries, and more. For example, in 2002, OSF allocated roughly $2,600 to Grigor Zohrap School (N 43) to open a computer center, buy equipment and introduce students to information technology. There are a dozen other grants that fall in this category.

Here is a comprehensive list of OSF’s activities in Armenia.
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From 1998 to 2014, Yerevan State University has received 32 grants from OSF, amounting to a total of $770,267.

Grants were also provided to the Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, the National Polytechnic University of Armenia, Yerevan State Medical University, Armenian State University of Economics, Vanadzor State Pedagogical University, American University of Armenia and others.

The Foundations has granted $614,065 to Armenia’s National Library for the creation of an electronic database.

Numerous media outlets, online and print newspapers have also been recipients of these grants.

For example, since 2009 Yerkir Media has received five grants totalling to $162,675 from the Open Society Foundation.

Other news outlets that have received grants include 7or.am, Factor.am, The Armenian Times (Haykakan Zhamanak), Investigative Journalists NGO Hetq, Tsayg, Alt TV, Lori TV and others.

From 2015 to 2019, the total amount of OSF grants is roughly $1.7 million each year. The lowest amount has been in 2017.

 

2017

$1,325,551 to 35 organizations

Largest amounts:

              $210,000 to Hetq 

              $90,000 to Public Journalism Club  


2018

$1,869,000 to 43 organizations

Largest amounts:

              $238,956 to the Union of Informed Citizens 

              $181,000 to Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center

              $147,043 to the Institute of Public Policy


2019 (as of February)

$140,000 to 2 organizations

Largest amount:

              $130,000 to the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor Office


Data for this piece has been acquired from the Open Society Foundations online database. 

Translated by Zara Poghosyan