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Location: Macedonian Outpost
Lawmakers probe US funding for Soros groups, left-wing causes in Europe
February 17, 2017
George Soros' alleged meddling in European politics has caught the attention of Congress. Concerns about Soros' involvement most recently were raised by the Hungarian prime minister, who last week lashed out at the Soros "empire" and accused it of deploying "tons of money and international heavy artillery." But days earlier, Republican lawmakers in Washington started asking questions about whether U.S. tax dollars also were being used to fund Soros projects in the small, conservative-led country of Macedonia. Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., led a group of House lawmakers in writing to Ambassador Jess Baily -- an Obama appointee -- demanding answers. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also expressed concerns about USAID money going to Soros' Open Society Foundations as part of a broader concern that the U.S. Embassy has been taking sides in party politics.
“I have received credible reports that, over the past few years, the US Mission to Macedonia has actively intervened in the party politics of Macedonia, as well as the shaping of its media environment and civil society, often favoring groups of one political persuasion over another,” Lee said in his letter. Together, the concerns reflect growing conservative pushback against Soros' operations in Europe. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last week ripped the Hungary-born billionaire's "trans-border empire." Orban has been one of the central European voices speaking out against the push by E.U. leaders to absorb Syrian refugees and has been criticized for his hardline stance.
Soros' Open Society Foundations -- one of the billionaire's biggest groups operating across the globe -- fired back, saying Orban was trying to deflect attention from other issues. “The Open Society Foundations for over 30 years have supported civil society groups in Hungary who are addressing profound problems in education, health care, media freedom and corruption," Laura Silber, the organization's chief communications officer, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Any attacks on this work and those groups are solely an attempt to deflect attention from government inability to address these issues." The group's stated goal is “to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens” but critics claim it's a front for Soros’ hard-left political maneuverings.
Former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski says Soros has a "decisive influence" on his country’s politics. “If it were not for George Soros behind it with all the millions he pours into Macedonia, the entire network of NGOs, media, politicians, inside and out ... the economy would be stronger, we would have had more new jobs,” he said in a recent interview with Macedonia’s Republika newspaper. Macedonia, while small, is a broadly conservative country. It has a flat rate tax of 10 percent, a small-government philosophy and a ruling conservative party (VMRO-DPMNE) that has greeted the election of President Trump warmly and pledged to work with him. Lee’s staff recently met with Macedonia lawmakers, who also passed on a white paper from a citizen’s initiative called “Stop Operation Soros” which alleges U.S. money has been funding hard-left causes in the country -- including violent riots in the streets, as well as a Macedonian version of Saul Alinsky’s far-left handbook “Rules for Radicals.”
In an extensive 40-page dossier, the group alleges USAID money is being used to fund activists and exclusively left-wing media groups as a way to sway the country’s politics. The Open Society Foundations did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News. On the Soros connection, Lee’s letter asked if the Mission has “selected the Open Society Foundations as the major implementer of USAID projects in Macedonia” and if the group has been perceived to have political bias in Macedonia. In a reply dated Feb. 9, the State Department told Lee that the Mission in the country has worked to advance U.S. interests “in a non-biased, non-partisan, objective and transparent manner.” The letter claimed U.S. government assistance has not funded partisan political activities in Macedonia, but noted that from 2002 to the present, USAID had provided three grants to Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM).
One of these grants is outlined on the USAID website. Between 2012 and 2016, USAID gave almost $5 million in taxpayer cash to FOSM for “The Civil Society Project,” which “aims to empower Macedonian citizens to hold government accountable.” USAID’s website links to www.soros.org.mk, and says the project trained hundreds of young Macedonians “in youth activism and the use of new media instruments.” The letter from the State Department to Lee said USAID also recently funded a new Civic Engagement Project which partners with four organizations, including FOSM. It was not clear how much this project would cost, but Smith put the figure at $9.5 million. “The money is very significant, in fact there is still money in the pipeline, from 2017 to 2021, 9.5 million,” Smith said in a recent radio interview with the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. “It’s one thing to do election monitoring, which is a very noble cause to make sure there’s free and fair elections, but it’s quite another thing to be backing parties that Soros and his gang want to see in control of that country.”
It isn’t the only time Soros has worked with the State Department. Among the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta released by Wikileaks was one from 2011 in which Soros urged Hillary Clinton to take action in Albania over recent demonstrations in the capital of Tirana. Soros asked Clinton to “bring the full weight of the international community to bear on Prime Minister Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama to forestall further public demonstrations and to tone down public pronouncements” and appoint a senior European official as mediator. Within a few days, an envoy was dutifully dispatched. Former Macedonian PM Gruevski cited the WikiLeaks emails as proof “[Soros] can go visit top leading American officials whenever he wants to, arranges meetings day in day out and has significant influence.”
While Soros has often been a bogeyman for the American right, the liberal businessman has kept a steady pressure and funding of left-wing causes within America as well. “This guy is a spider with lots of webs,” GOP strategist Brad Blakeman told Fox News' "Strategy Room." “He controls numerous third-party groups, where he uses his influence. We’ve seen it internally with Black Lives Matter, the demonstrations taken place after the inaugural -- this is what he does.” After violent left-wing activists rioted at Berkeley in protest of a lecture by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, The Daily Caller reported that the main group behind the protests -- Refuse Facism -- was backed by The Alliance for Global Justice -- which in turn is backed by The Tides Foundation, a Soros-funded group. Soros also has donated to Media Matters and has been a major financial contributor to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank founded by Podesta.
Chilimanov: Far-Left ‘Soros Army’ Invades Conservative Macedonia, Contributes to Migrant Crisis with U.S. Taxpayer Support
17 Feb 2017
Cvetin Chilimanov, vice president of Stop Operation Soros, called into Friday’s Breitbart News Daily from Macedonia to discuss billionaire George Soros’ efforts to influence Macedonian politics. Chilimanov noted that Macedonia gained its independence from the defunct Soviet Union in 1991, making it relatively young as a free nation despite its ancient culture. [Correction: Macedonia seceded from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, not the Soviet Union.] “Unfortunately, what was waiting for us as soon as we got out of Yugoslavia was that the Left regrouped” with the help of Soros, who is “funding all sorts of outfits throughout Eastern Europe,” according to Chilimanov. “His main base is in Hungary. He’s active in the Ukraine now, in Poland. He’s organizing protests all throughout the Balkans, from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia. He has one of the highest per-capita expenditures in Macedonia,” Chilimanov said.
SiriusXM host Lee Stranahan assured his guest that Soros is well-known to conservatives in the United States as “one of the big funders of the institutional Left,” including unions, think tanks, and media organizations. Chilimanov described Macedonia as a “country which re-asserted its independence after being partitioned by neighboring countries, with the usual Balkan arguments over identity, over religion with everybody around, but we were at least hoping we were putting socialism to bed after we split from Yugoslavia and tried to rejoin the Western world.” Stranahan clarified for the U.S. audience that Macedonia is also “a very conservative country in the American political sense of the word, in a lot of ways.” He offered the strong pro-life movement in Macedonia as an example. “That’s correct,” said Chilimanov. “We are conservative in social outlook. We have adopted some American-style conservative policies in economic outlook,” such as “a low flat tax rate of ten percent, tax-free zones to spur up manufacturing, easing of the labor laws to make it easier to hire and fire people, and cutting regulatory burdens.”
He was proud to report that “just a few days ago,” the Heritage Foundation “declared us number thirty-first in the world in economic freedom.” (The United States is ranked Number 17 on that list, putting it in the “mostly free” category along with Macedonia. The only five “free” nations in the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia.) “Not only in social outlook, but also in economic outlook, we have tried to – whenever conservatism was given a chance to run the country, we have tried to follow the U.S. example, the U.S. conservative example, and it just worked well,” Chilimanov said. “We have slashed unemployment, we have doubled the economy over ten years, just by introducing free market reforms. In many ways, we have been inspired by the U.S.” “The voters generally vote for the conservative party and give it wide mandate to rule the country, but this is where Soros comes with his attempts to help the former Communist Party, now the Social Democratic Party, take over power. And now, they do this pretty regularly,” he said.
Stranahan pointed out there is even a street in Macedonia named after Ronald Reagan, wryly noting “they wouldn’t allow that in many American cities at this point.” Chilimanov confirmed Stranahan’s report of seeing activists in the streets of Macedonia wearing “Soros Army” T-shirts: “These are the activists from this former Communist party, which has essentially merged with the sprawling Soros Foundation here,” Chilimanov said. “There is the old Communist party, and there are dozens and dozens of what they call ‘non-governmental organizations,’ NGOs, which are funded by Soros to the tune of about $5 million a year. This is supplemented by several million, up to $5 million a year additionally, coming from the coffers of the United States, usually through USAID.” He added that several other countries help to finance these left-wing activists, who “like to organize protests which would be not out of place to an American who has seen the Black Lives Matter protests.” These protests have targeted the office of the president, the Justice Ministry, the Parliament building, and other government offices, often with enough violence to injure police officers.
“They were receiving implicit support from the U.S. Embassy here, considering how the State Department was politicized and controlled,” he complained. “This is the most important thing here. The listeners obviously realize how IRS or the EPA were politicized under Obama, but I don’t think a good grasp of the extent to which the State Department was politicized, and USAID, which is the international development agency.” “USAID, the U.S. development agency, and the U.S. Embassy here have given tens of millions of dollars over the past several years to George Soros-led groups in Macedonia,” he elaborated. “They don’t give anything remotely similar to conservative groups. They’re essentially supporting only one side of the ideological divide in Macedonia. And they were doing this at a time when these groups were organizing violent protests, attacking the police, doing all they can to bring down the conservative government in this country.” “They keep the money for all sorts of activities. That includes media development, so the U.S. is paying for a long list of far-Left TV programs and news sites in Macedonia. They even pay for, several hundred thousand dollars have gone to essentially a copy of Saturday Night Live going on Macedonian television with similar talking points and similar jokes against conservatives and lionizing the Left,” he said.
“I want to make sure people get this,” Stranahan interjected. “Tens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money, correct? You’re saying that money has gone to George Soros to promote a culture of leftism, leftist groups in the country of Macedonia. Is that correct?” “Exactly,” Chilimanov agreed. “One of the Soros groups receiving U.S. funding is fighting to make abortion more easily accessible in the country. Other groups are promoting progressive economic policies, discussing inequality, or asking us to make our labor laws more strict or reintroduce progressive taxation. Another group is working on a media forum which is very anti-First Amendment. They’re promoting media regulation which will lead to setting up a committee which is going to evaluate whether you are spreading ‘fake news’ and essentially close down your media outlet if they decide you are.” “Maybe one of the worst organizations they’re funding, which is receiving U.S. funding and is set up by George Soros here, it’s a group of young lawyers who are very active in the migrant crisis, which Europe experienced in 2015 and 2016, during which Macedonia became essentially the external border of Europe. So the U.S. government was paying a group of lawyers to go to the border every day and to help people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, all over the world cross the border more easily, and apply for documents which will allow them to continue traveling through Macedonia toward Germany,” he said.
Update: Macedonia seceded from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991, not the Soviet Union. The error has been corrected above.
In the name of the blood and the sun, the dagger and the gun, Christ protect this soldier, a full blooded Macedonian.