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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soros to Fund Internet Hook-Up

American financier George Soros agreed Friday to fund a five-year, $100 million program to hook up the Internet to 30 of Russia's largest universities outside Moscow and St. Petersburg, a Soros Foundation official said.

The announcement followed a meeting between the Hungarian-born American billionaire and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at which they "reached an agreement in principle to go ahead with the project," said Alex Goldfarb, Soros' adviser on Russia. Goldfarb added that the project is expected to start this fall.

"In the first stage of the project we will set up centers at the universities," he said. "Later we will fund projects involving also the non-campus community."

He added, "we have earlier faced the problem [of] how to reach wider communities outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

"The best way to do so is through Internet centers. ... We see it as a vehicle to make the resources of the foundation available," he said.

Under the agreement, the Soros Foundation will finance the on-site operation, while the Russian government will provide for the connections among the centers and with the outside world.

A commission, including the Russian ministers of science and higher education and two Soros Foundation representatives, will oversee the project.

Over the past four years, the Soros Foundation has spent nearly $200 million on cultural and educational projects in Russia, including $100 million to fund an international science foundation to assist Russian fundamental sciences.