A Hungarian magazine published Thursday more than 200 names of people it claims are likely part a group that Prime Minister Viktor Orban calls “mercenaries” paid by U.S.-Hungarian billionaire philanthropist George Soros to topple the government.
Those on the list in weekly publication Figyelo include members of rights organisations such as Amnesty International, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, refugee advocates, investigative journalists and faculty and officials from the Soros-founded, Budapest-based Central European University.
Some of those named are deceased.
Figyelo is a formerly highly respected business magazine which took on an unabashedly pro-government slant after it was acquired by an Mr Orban ally in December 2016.
Mr Orban was re-elected to a fourth term as Hungary’s leader in Sunday’s parliamentary election. A few weeks before the vote, he told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters that, after the elections, “moral, political and legal amends” would be sought against rivals.
Mr Orban, who based his campaign on demonizing migrants, blames Soros and organisations supported by his Open Society Foundations for wanting to allow thousands of immigrants into Hungary.
Last month, Mr Orban said the government knew the names of some 2,000 members of the “Soros mercenary army,” paid to “work toward bringing down the government.”
“We know precisely who these people are, we know names … and how and why they are working to transform Hungary into an immigrant country,” Mr Orban said 30 March on state radio.
The government’s International Communications Office, asked about the published list, including whether the names in Figyelo match those compiled by the government, referred all questions to the publication.
Mr Orban said Tuesday that the “Stop Soros” legislative package submitted by the government before the elections had been tacitly endorsed by voters. The new laws, which could be approved in May, could severely hamper the activities of civic groups working with asylum-seekers and refugees.
“We feel authorised to pass the law,” Mr Orban said.
Andras Petho, an investigative journalist at website Direkt36.hu and one of those named by Figyelo, said that while his publication was partly supported by Soros’ foundation, most of its revenues came from crowdfunding efforts and from Hungarian readers.
“We’ve never had any requests or expectations expressed about our reporting or stories by the Soros fund,” Petho said, noting that Direkt36’s donors were listed on its website.
“In 2016, during a speech in parliament, Prime Minister Orban even cited information from one of our reports on the financial dealings of an opposition party,” Petho said.
Direkt36 writes regularly about the business dealings of Mr Orban’s family and allies, while also reporting on the business activities and interests of government and opposition politicians.