BUDAPEST (Reuters) - U.S. financier George Soros on Monday denounced a Hungarian government campaign against him as “distortions and lies” designed to create a false external enemy.
Soros, 86, is a Hungarian-born Jew whose longtime support for liberal and open-border values in eastern Europe have put him at odds with right-wing nationalists, in particular the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Orban last month sent to voters seven statements attributed to Soros that, among other things, called for the European Union to settle a million migrants a year and pay each of them thousands of euros.
“The statements … contain distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians about George Soros’s views on migrants and refugees,” said a statement issued by Soros’s Open Society Foundations.
The ruling Fidesz party’s vice chairman said Soros was engaged in a “frontal assault” against Hungary.
“What Soros writes about immigration, in general, is a pro-immigration stance that is open about its disdain for the nation state,” Gergely Gulyas told a news conference. “Decisions made in Brussels echo that in the field of immigration policy.”
The election campaign of Orban’s Fidesz party has built on a series of billboards warning Hungarians, “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh” and showing a laughing Soros in black and white. The billboards drew accusations of anti-Semitism.
Fidesz pulled the billboard campaign just before a July visit to Budapest by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The government has denied its campaign was anti-Semitic, and re-launched the billboards in the autumn in promoting a “national consultation” with voters.
Gulyas said it was “outrageous” that Soros called the campaign anti-Semitic.