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Soros NGO to close Hungary office over law targeting its efforts

Soros NGO to close Hungary office over law targeting its efforts

The step raises the stakes in Prime Minister Viktor Orban's standoff with the European Union as he seeks to complete a break with liberal democracy after winning a third consecutive term in elections last month.

On Monday, Antal Rogan, the minister for Orban's Cabinet office, said the government would propose an even "tighter" bill, but he provided no details.

The 54-year-old premier, reelected for a third consecutive term last month, has long accused Soros of orchestrating immigration into Europe.

The proposals include a special tax on such NGOs, secret service surveillance of their staff, and a ban on any individuals deemed to be involved in "illegal immigration" from Hungary and its border zones.

Rights groups in Hungary and overseas have denounced the proposals as a way of cracking down on groups critical of the government.

Orban, an avowed nationalist and critic of Western Europe's embrace of refugees, blamed Soros for much of the country's economic woes ahead of his recent reelection.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian leader, has spent more than €100 million in state funds on propaganda to demonise George Soros, the financier's charity claimed as it announced it was pulling out of Budapest.




A Hungarian government billboard featuring George Soros, with the words translated to "Don't let George Soros have the last laugh" is seen at a transit stop in Budapest on July 6, 2017.

After Orban and his Fidesz Party won a landslide in parliamentary elections on April 8, the attacks on Soros and the OSF have increased.

Patrick Gaspard, the OSF's president, mentioned the federal government has "denigrated and misrepresented our work and repressed civil society for the sake of political achieve, utilizing techniques unprecedented within the historical past of the European Union".

The theme of thwarting Soros's alleged efforts to encourage immigration dominated the election campaign during which Orban said some 2,000 "mercenaries" paid by Soros were working in Hungary.

The building that houses the Budapest offices of the Open Society Foundations in Budapest, Hungary.

The campaign was criticized in the Hungarian Jewish community as having anti-Semitic overtones. Since then he has donated billions of dollars to foundations across the world, with the first in Hungary opening in 1984 to promote freedom of speech during communism.

According to the Open Society Foundations' statement, the closure in Budapest will impact more than 100 staff based there, about 60 percent of whom are Hungarian.

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