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Soros-backed foundation leaving Hungary

16 May 2018

"Faced with an increasingly repressive political and legal environment in Hungary, the Open Society Foundations are moving their Budapest-based global operations and staff to the German capital, Berlin, " the group announced on Tuesday.

A senior minister in Orban's new government said on Monday that Hungary would tighten the bill on non-government groups following the ruling party's big election victory last month, a move likely to dismay the European Union and rights groups.

Soros' support for refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East in recent years has made him a target for Orban's right-wing coalition, which is now entering its third consecutive term and campaigned on a virulently anti-immigrant and anti-refugee platform.

As you know, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been in power since 2010, in recent months sharpened his nationalist rhetoric and especially critical of the US billionaire George Soros.

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

The legislation is branded as "Stop Soros" and the Hungarian government warned on Monday that legislative measures may yet become tighter.

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The government has indicated that these new laws are meant to stop the work of leading Hungarian human rights organizations and their funders, including the Open Society Foundations.

Hungarian politicians have repeatedly called in the country to ban the activities of the Soros Foundation, accusing the philanthropist and his Foundation in promoting influx into Hungary of migrants. Soros supporters argued the campaign also had anti-Semitic overtones, a claim the government rejected.

OSF's Gaspard said the Hungarian government had funneled more than 100 million euros ($119m) in public funds into its "hate campaign" in order to "spread lies about the Foundations and their partners", he said.

More than 100 staff members will be affected by the move to Berlin, 60% of whom are Hungarian nationals, according to OSF.

The Open Society Foundations have a long legacy in Hungary, where Soros was born and where he began his philanthropy in Europe.

Another Soros institution funded by Soros, Budapest's Central European University, may also be forced to shutter operations in Hungary.

Soros-backed foundation leaving Hungary