Europe

Hungary lawmakers debate bill seen meant to intimidate NGOs

  • Co-chairman and parliamentary faction leader of LMP (Politics Can Be Different) green-liberal party, Bernadett Szel, speaks during the general debate regarding the proposed legislation on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs  at the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

    Co-chairman and parliamentary faction leader of LMP (Politics Can Be Different) green-liberal party, Bernadett Szel, speaks during the general debate regarding the proposed legislation on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs at the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this April 12, 2017 photo people gather to protest in Heroes Square in Budapest. Hungarian lawmakers have begun debating a draft bill seen as meant to intimidate non-governmental groups which receive foreign financing. Deputies from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party said Wednesday, April 19, 2017 that the only aim of the law is greater transparency in the civil sector.  (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP,file)

    FILE - In this April 12, 2017 photo people gather to protest in Heroes Square in Budapest. Hungarian lawmakers have begun debating a draft bill seen as meant to intimidate non-governmental groups which receive foreign financing. Deputies from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party said Wednesday, April 19, 2017 that the only aim of the law is greater transparency in the civil sector. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP,file)  (The Associated Press)

  • Deputy faction leader of Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Alliance, Gergely Gulyas, participates in the general debate  regarding the proposed legislation on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs during the plenary session of the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

    Deputy faction leader of Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Alliance, Gergely Gulyas, participates in the general debate regarding the proposed legislation on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs during the plenary session of the parliament in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Hungarian lawmakers have begun debating a draft bill seen as meant to intimidate non-governmental organizations which receive foreign financing.

Deputies from Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party said Wednesday that the only aim of the law is greater transparency in the civil sector.

For their part, members of the opposition compared the legislation to similar rules introduced in Russia.

Among other conditions, NGOs getting more than 7.2 million forints ($24,600) a year from abroad would have to register with the courts and identify themselves as being foreign-funded on their websites and publications.

Fidesz claims that some of the NGOs in question, like rights advocate the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and corruption watchdog Transparency International, are part of a network financed by billionaire George Soros to influence Hungarian politics.