More and more autocrats are stifling criticism by barring non-governmental organisations from taking foreign cash
“WE’RE not dealing with civil society members but paid political activists who are trying to help foreign interests here.” So claimed Viktor Orban, Hungary’s increasingly autocratic prime minister, last July, in a speech describing his plans to turn his country into an “illiberal state”. This continued an attack that began earlier this year on dozens of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hungary that have received funds from the Norwegian government under a 20-year-old deal to strengthen civil society in poorer parts of Europe. The NGOs, among them the Roma Press Centre, Women for Women against Violence and Labrisz Lesbian Association, are being “audited” by the Hungarian government, leading Norway to suspend its payments in protest. On September 8th police raided two NGOs responsible for distributing the Norwegian grants.