Soros wires Russia – $500M network needs backers

International financier George Soros’ charitable foundation has spent $500 million over 13 years to establish a huge regional Internet structure in Russia, Reuters reported June 8.

To encourage freedom of information, the foundation set up Internet sites that acted as service providers in 33 regions.

With investors, these sites could spark local Internet development, Stewart Paperin foundation vice-president, told Reuters. Soros’ for-profit fund will probably not invest in these sites due to conflict of interest.

Soros told Reuters that he saw the Russian Internet as a hot investment and would consider investing in Russia again.

The Russian Internet is expected to boom as the economy picks up, Soros said.

Soros has a stake in Golden Telecom, Russia’s largest national Internet service provider.

Soros’ group also leads a consortium that paid $1.9 billion for a 25 percent interest in Svyasinvest, the firm that controls almost every Russian regional telecommunications firm, in 1997. The purchase set off an economic war between oligarchs, and Soros has called it the worst investment of his career.

For full text, go to Reuters.

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