Soros Foundation to leave Hungary

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A foundation founded by Hungarian-born billionaire philanthropist George Soros is moving its Budapest operations to Germany following the right-wing Hungarian government's crackdown on civil-society organizations and targeted attacks on Soros.

The decision to move operations from Budapest is justified by the fact that the Hungarian government "is ready to impose additional restrictions on non-governmental organizations through what it called the package of legislation "Stop Soros".

The "Stop Soros" law, among the first measures legislated by recently re-elected Prime Minister Viktor Orban's far-right Fidesz party, targets NGOs that support migration into Hungary.

The prime minister views Soros as an intruder into the country's domestic politics, which are more and more being painted by Europe's growing 2015 migrant crisis.

Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations, said on Tuesday that Budapest had "denigrated and misrepresented" the organization's work and repressed civil society "for the sake of political gain". The Foundations will pursue all available legal avenues to defend the fundamental rights that are threatened by the legislation.

The new legislation restricts the work of NGOs that receive foreign funding, imposing a punitive 25% overhead tax on donations.

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"The so-called Stop Soros package of laws is only the latest in a series of such attempts".

The campaign was criticized in the Hungarian Jewish community as having anti-Semitic overtones.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has blamed Soros, a Hungarian-born United States financier, for a host of ills and is planning to tighten a crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under legislation dubbed the "Stop Soros" bill. Around 60 percent are Hungarian nationals, including several who have worked for the Open Society Foundations for more than a decade.

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.

Soros' Open Society Foundations, which promote democracy and free speech, have also endured threats of legal sanctions from the government.

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