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George Soros to close Hungary office amid political dispute

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo shows activists tearing down an ad by the Hungarian government against George Soros in Budapest, Hungary. (By AFP)

The charity of US billionaire George Soros in Hangary, which funds dozens of non-governmental organizations, will close its office in the capital, Budapest, over a new “Stop Soros” legislation that would implement harsh new measures on the organization.

The Open Society Foundation (OSF), with at least 100 staff in its office in Budapest, will shut down the office in Budapest by the end of August and move the employees to the Austrian capital of Vienna and then on to the German capital, Berlin, Austria’s Die Presse newspaper quoted OSF President Patrick Gaspard as saying.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who was reelected for a third consecutive term earlier this month, has formerly accused Soros of using his funds to buy influence in the European Union and the United Nations.

The anti-immigration prime minister submitted a bill to parliament before the elections to levy taxes on foreign donations to the NGOs that he says are supporting “illegal immigration.” If passed, the legislation could lead to many foreign-funded NGOs shutting down in Hungary.

Orban has for years waged a campaign against migration into Europe, and has accused Soros of “fostering Muslim immigration” that he says threatens to turn Hungary and Europe into “a mixed population” stripped of its Christian identity.

The Hungarian-born Soros is a divisive figure in Hungary due to his left-wing interests and open-border policy inclinations, which are sharply in contrast to Orbon’s policies. The two have on several occasions clashed publicly.

Soros’ charity, which is active globally, established its first office abroad in Budapest in 1984. It has spent more than $1.6 billion on what he says is the development of liberal democracy in Eastern Europe in the past 30 years.

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