OSF May Exit Hungary as Orban Purges Civil Groups

Friday, April 20, 2018

OSF May Exit Hungary as Orban Purges Civil Groups

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, a group that funds dozens of non-governmental organizations in Hungary, may move its staff out of Budapest amid a crackdown on civil society by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

OSF is “considering various options” and is “closely watching developments around draft legislation that would dramatically restrict the activities of civil society in Hungary,” the charity said in an emailed statement on Friday. The foundation will move about 100 employees to Berlin, Austrian newspaper Die Presse reported on Thursday, without citing anyone. Speaking on public radio on Friday, Orban said he wouldn’t shed “crocodile tears” if the organization left Budapest.

The European Union has sued Hungary over its perceived crackdown on civil society as Orban leads a trend of leaders in Europe who have targeted Soros-funded organizations. Orban, re-elected to a third consecutive term this month, demonized the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and pledged to punish NGOs he supports. Orban has condemned the EU’s multicultural democratic model, based on checks and balances and a thriving civil society, and has worked to create an “illiberal state” modeled on Russia and Turkey...

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