Hungary lawmakers debate bill seen meant to intimidate NGOs

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.