For the Hudson Institute's Kleptocracy Initiative, I looked at the rise of Hungary's illiberalism - and the parallels to Moscow:
But where others may have been chastened by such close affiliation with Moscow, Orban has only dug that much deeper through the Kremlin’s illiberal toolbox in the time since. For instance, Orban’s government recently pushed a new law targeting domestic NGOs receiving non-Hungarian funding. Mirrored on Russia’s much-maligned “foreign agents” law, Budapest’s proposed legislation would force NGOs to declare themselves as “foreign-funded organizations” if they receive more than $24,700 from non-domestic sources. The move would stigmatize organizations like Transparency International, which ranked Hungary 57thinternationally in its most recent Corruption Perceptions Index – a drop of 10 slots in only two years, tying it with Jordan and Romania and just beating out the likes of Cuba and Saudi Arabia.
All told, per Amnesty International, Budapest’s campaign against NGOs has led to a “chilling effect on civil society” in the country. Or as the former American ambassador, heavily critical of Orban’s illiberalism, said, “to Orban, Hungarian freedom meant freedom from the influence of anyone who wasn’t Hungarian.”
Elsewhere, and much like Orban’s move to stack state institutions with close, servile associates, the prime minister oversaw a growing nexus of corrupt economic packages, swiping Moscow’s model of state capture. In one instance, a series of foundations created by Hungary’s national bank, all set up in 2014, received some $1 billion in grants and properties, with financing remaining a secret. Soon, the foundations – one of which had the national bank’s governor as the chairman of its board – began awarding grants to pro-government journalists, even funding the national bank’s governor’s former chief of staff. As The Economist noted, “One [foundation] funded the publication of a six-volume heroic history of Hungary, written not by a historian but by an oncologist. … Many of the foundations’ beneficiaries are allied to or connected to Fidesz.”