Russia bans America’s liberal Bard College, labelling it as ‘undesirable organization’ threatening country’s ‘order and security’

Russia bans America’s liberal Bard College, labelling it as ‘undesirable organization’ threatening country’s ‘order and security’

Authorities in Moscow have labelled an American liberal arts university working in the country as ‘undesirable’ and banned it following claims it’s working to undermine the government and threatening the security of the state.

In a statement issued by the office of the Prosecutor General on Tuesday, officials said that the decision to blacklist Bard College was made based on evidence “its activities pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation.”

The organization, based in New York state, will now face an effective ban against operating in the country. A private liberal arts college, Bard boasts of its wide network of global placements that allow its students to “engage in international dialogue.” One such link is with the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Smolny College, part of St. Petersburg State University.

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The American institution describes its mission as seeking “to inspire curiosity, a love of learning, idealism, and a commitment to the link between higher education and civic participation.”

Bard College has received numerous grants from billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his network of organizations. In 2020, it received a gift of $100 million from the Hungarian businessman’s Open Society Foundation, followed by a $500 million endowment the following year.

Other organizations declared by Russian authorities to be ‘undesirable organizations’ include pro-NATO lobby group The Atlantic Council, which received the label in 2019. The law forbids groups given the designation from opening offices or disseminating materials in the country. Those found to be affiliated with them can face fines of up to 100,000 (around $1,370) rubles or prison terms of two to six years.

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