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‘Stop Soros’ package targets supporters of ‘illegal migration’

The government has drafted legislation that would make data provision mandatory for organizations supporting what it terms “illegal migration” and levy a 25% duty on funds they receive from abroad, Interior Minister Sándor Pintér said at a press conference Wednesday. Government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács dubbed the legislation the “Stop Soros” package.

Photo: MTI / Zoltán Balogh

At the press briefing held during a break in a government meeting, Pintér and Kovács revealed further legal steps the government is planning to restrict the activities of certain NGOs it has targeted recently for what it says is their support for illegal migration.

The move comes in the wake of the recent “national consultation” on what the Fidesz-led government has repeatedly described as a “Soros Plan” to forcibly resettle migrants in Europe, in reference to Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist George Soros, the alleged author of the plan. Soros himself has repeatedly denied the existence of any such plan.

The proposed levy would apply to organizations that receive more funding from abroad than from Hungarian citizens at home, and would be collected by the National Tax and Customs Administration (NAV), Pintér was cited as saying by state news wire MTI. The legislation would also allow restraining orders to be issued against individuals who organize illegal migration, MTI added.

Organizations deemed to be supporting illegal migration would need to provide a database that would be transparent, although news portal index.hu noted that it is not yet clear what actually constitutes support for illegal migration.

Despite Kovács describing the legislation as the “Stop Soros” package, Pintér conceded in answer to a reporterʼs question that Soros himself does not carry out activity supporting illegal migration - an admission, index.hu noted, that is strange in light of the governmentʼs position in the national consultation. The report also noted that the package of laws makes no mention of Soros by name.

The new package of three draft laws will not be submitted to Parliament immediately, but will first be put to public debate, index.hu reported. The full text of the laws will be published on Thursday, it added.

Máté Dániel Szabó,  a lawyer and director of programs at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), said that the government is once again attempting to restrict the space for critical voices to be heard. He added that the package is likely to fail, either on legal grounds or because it will prove unsuitable in practice for attaining the governmentʼs real goal.

Ágoston Sámuel Mráz, head of the Nézőpont Institute, a think tank described by index.hu as close to the government, was cited as telling pro-government daily Magyar Idők that the governmentʼs plan of action provides a “symbolic defensive tool” against Soros in the next three months, i.e. until Aprilʼs general elections.

Mráz noted that the move “is connected to the elections, since the latest national consultation showed that almost 2.5 million Hungarian citizens think it important for the government to take action against the interference of George Soros.”