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Opposition parties protest NGO crackdown Russian-style bill submitted by Orban's Fidesz

Fidesz has officially proposed an anticipated bill which appears designed to crack down on NGOs in Hungary. Earlier this week, we reported that 444.hu had obtained a leak of the bill. The official bill contains the same provisions as those listed in the leaked version.
According to the bill,

  • civil organizations and foundations must register with authorities within 15 days of meeting the annual foreign funding threshold of HUF 7.2 million. The organizations must itemize each such transaction for the authorities.
  • this information would be made public on the government-operated Civil Information Portal.
  • the organizations must immediately report on their website (or anything they publish) that according to Hungarian law, they are recognized as a foreign-funded organization.
  • applicable organizations that do not identify themselves as foreign-funded will be fined. If they refuse to abide by the law, prosecutors can remove the organization from Hungary's corporate registry.
  • organizations can only be de-listed as foreign-funded organizations after five consecutive years of receiving less than the annual HUF 7.2 million threshold.
  • churches and religious organizations are exempt from having to register as foreign-funded organizations.

The government has pulled a new card from the pack of Russian President Vladimir Putin with the submission of the bill, Gergely Arató, a politician of the Democratic Coalition (DK) said at a press conference on Saturday. The proposed legislation would stigmatise civil organisations, damaging their credibility and making them out to be foreign spies, he said. This was last a common practice under the dictatorship in the 1950s, he added.
Green party LMP called on the government to withdraw the bill at a press conference on Saturday. Party co-leader Bernadett Szél said the bill is a provocation and totally absurd. "The government must withdraw this shameful bill which is good for nothing," she added. LMP's other co-head Ákos Hadházy said MPs of governing Fidesz who submitted the bill had said it aimed to create transparency among supporters of civil organisations, but this is not the case. The bill draws attention away from genuine problems and stigmatises organisations that the government does not like, he added.
The bill would require organisations that receive more than 7.2 million forints (EUR 23,000) in foreign support to declare that support.
Source: budapestbeacon.com; Huingary Matters

Last Updated on Monday, 10 April 2017 13:12

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