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Hungarian government spends 18.2 million euros on anti-Sargentini campaign

According to the Hungarian investigative portal Átlátszó, over the last two weeks the Hungarian government has spent 18.2 million euros of taxpayers money on an advertising campaign directed against Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini (pictured above), Hungarian-American businessman George Soros and Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt.

Immediately after Ms Sargentini’s critical report of Viktor Orbán’s government was adopted by the European Parliament, the Hungarian prime minister’s office signed a contract worth 5.9 billion forints (18.2 million euros) with the media companies New Land Media and Lounge Design, both owned by businessman Gyula Balásy. The contract aimed to regulate “tasks in connection with government measures significantly affecting citizens’ lives.” Within six days, an advertising campaign targeting Ms Sargentini had been launched.

The conservative and pro-government publication Magyar Időkm confirmed that the government is campaigning against the Sargentini report, claiming that it is based on lies and was approved by the European Parliament in order to apply political pressure on Hungary with disregard for procedural rules.

The leader of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group Máté Kocsis was the first to comment on the European Parliament’s vote, accusing Ms Sargentini of working for George Soros as direct revenge for the Hungary’s position on migration.

The Sargentini report highlights several concerns related to the rule of law, freedom of expression and the rights of minorities in Hungary. Hungary has already said that it plans to appeal against the report.

Photo: Martin Plumers / Groenlinks