Hungarian PM attacks nonprofits supported by Soros, wants to close them
The BBC and the Bloomberg wire service reported yesterday that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is said to be intent on taking aggressive action against NGOs financed by billionaire George Soros. The Hungarian PM has previously been criticized by the EU and the USA for his attacks on such organizations.
According to representatives of Hungarian NGOs, the PM is attacking basic democratic principles and restoring totalitarian practices. The vice-chair of the governing Fidesz party, Szilárd Németh, has said the NGOs sponsored by the American billionaire "must be driven back by all possible means", according to the BBC.
Németh said be believes the NGOs serve global capitalists and support political correctness more than they support national governments. The BBC reports that Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election has created what Fidesz's deputy leader in the Hungarian parliament, Szilard Nemeth, calls an "international opportunity to sweep away" the NGOs.
Trump's campaign closed with a television ad featuring images of Soros that had anti-Semitic overtones. The Guardian newspaper in the UK quoted Peter Kreko of the Budapest think-tank Political Capital Institute, one of 60 organizations financed by the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which Soros established, as follows: "As a consequence of the election of Donald Trump, Orbán finally feels that one of the two international players interested in the situation of NGOs in Hungary - the EU and the USA - is now on his side, because Trump is an unrelenting rival of Soros."
In the campaign ad, Trump used footage showing Soros standing next to the head of the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, and the executive director of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, both of whom are Jewish, as is Soros. The Anti-Defamation League sharply criticized Trump for the anti-Semitic ad.
The BBC reported that OSF President Christopher Stone has issued a statement that "The Open Society Foundations will continue to work in Hungary despite government opposition to our mission of fairer, accountable societies. In Hungary and around the world we are more focused than ever on working with local groups to strengthen democratic practice, rights, and justice."
The EU, NGOs, and US President Barack Obama have long criticized the Hungarian PM for building an authoritarian, illiberal state. When the left-wing daily Népszabadság was closed in October 2016, opposition parties convened a demonstration for press freedom.
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