Press Release

Open Society Launches Fund for a Free and Democratic Ukraine

New York/Berlin/Kyiv, March 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Open Society Foundations today are pledging an initial $25 million to launch the Ukraine Democracy Fund and urge other funders to join us in supporting civil society in Ukraine in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on democracy.

This initiative builds on Open Society’s more than three decades of work in Eastern Europe to support human rights organizations, independent journalists, and other civil society groups. The aim of this fund is to join with private foundations, philanthropists big and small, and the private sector to raise $100 million over the duration of the crisis and its inevitably protracted aftermath.

“We have one simple message: we will never abandon Ukraine,” said Alex Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations. “As Putin tries to wipe the country off the map, we will do all we can for the people of Ukraine. We urge others to step forward and join us.”

“This is a defining moment for open societies,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, president of the Foundations. “Whatever the Kremlin might say, it is clear that what Putin is really afraid of is neither NATO nor nuclear weapons, but a free and flourishing democracy on his doorstep.”

The fund will advance three goals:

  • Support for Ukrainian civil society: Since 1990, independent Ukrainian organizations have played a vital role in the country’s democratic development—from fighting corruption to defending independent media and the rights of citizens. These groups are the sinew of any healthy democracy. During the current conflict and its aftermath, the fund will continue to support this work—now more critical than ever.
  • International solidarity with Ukraine: The fund will advance international efforts to defend Ukraine’s freedom and independence, to battle authoritarianism, and to enhance international accountability efforts through credible documentation of war crimes. This will include resources for investigative journalists, artists, and scholars, as well as for research and advocacy groups who speak out for human rights and the rule of law across the region.
  • Protecting human dignity: As of today, more than one million people have been forced to flee Ukraine, and many more are displaced within the country. Additional unforeseen threats to civilians lie ahead. The fund will support humanitarian aid for those beyond the reach of other relief efforts, as well as bolstering public health work, protecting and welcoming refugees, and eventually post-conflict reconstruction.

“This has been a time of horror in Ukraine,” said Oleksandr Sushko, executive director of our Kyiv-based International Renaissance Foundation. “At the same time, I feel great pride in seeing how Ukraine, Europe, and much of the world are standing against Putin’s aggression. We will keep defending freedom and the pillars of democracy here and across the globe.”

Founded by George Soros, the Open Society Foundations are the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. Open Society has been working in Ukraine through the International Renaissance Foundation since 1990.

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