INTERVIEW: “The weekend’s protests were the Russian people's, not the opposition’s” – Maxim Reznik
Western Balkans citizens legally resident in EU equal to 14% of region’s population
International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has stripped Belarus of the right to hold the World Championship this year
Alexei Navalny arrested on arrival as he returns home
@russian_market sacked by UBS for supporting Navalny
Elbrus Capital attracts major international players to invest in the Russian digital sphere
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden have first phone call, extend START II treaty for five years
ING: Russian budget’s modest deficit leaves fiscal room for 2021
Public support is collapsing for The People’s Servant Party
Ukraine’s industrial output jumped 4.8% y/y in December
State-owned Ukrgasbank signs off on convertible €30mn IFC loan ahead of its privatisation
National Bank of Ukraine retains a key policy rate at 6%, the outlook of the CPI deteriorates
Estonia's two big parties agree on grand coalition
VISEGRAD BLOG: Central Europe's populists need a new strategy for Biden
LONG READ: The oligarch problem
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
Czech billionaire Kellner´s PPF makes another bid for Moneta Money Bank
Czech MPs pass protectionist food law in violation of EU rules
M&A in Central and Eastern Europe fell 16% in value in 2020, says CMS report
Hungarian vehicle makers hit by supply chain shortage
COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
Polish parcel locker operator InPost soars in Euronext Amsterdam debut
Polish industrial production continues boom in December
OUTLOOK 2021 Poland
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
BALKAN BLOG: Only better waste management can clean rivers of trash
Pandemic pushes public debt close to 80% of GDP in Albania and Montenegro
BALKAN BLOG: Superstition and resentment surround vaccination plans
Albania needs reforms for e-commerce to thrive, says World Bank
Bosnia's exports in 2020 amounted to BAM10.5bn, trade deficit to BAM6.3bn
Bulgaria’s latest nuclear u-turn
Retailers and restaurant owners threaten protests in Bulgaria if reopening is delayed
Bulgaria's Biodit first company to IPO on new BEAM market
Spring lockdown caused spike in online transactions in Croatia
ING: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Kosovo’s biggest opposition party risks being unable to run in general election
OUTLOOK 2021 Moldova
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Montenegro’s special prosecution probes finance minister over €750mn Eurobond issue
North Macedonia plans to cut personal income tax in IT sector to zero in 2023
Romanian cybersecurity company Safetech floats shares amid rising investor interest
Romania government to pursue “ambitious” timetable for justice reforms
Private finance mobilised by development banks up 9% to $175bn in 2019
Slovenia plans region's longest-tenor Eurobond
Slovenian crypto payment system enters Thai market
Slovenia’s economic sentiment indicator up 2.2 pp m/m in January
Slovenia lost €10bn by neglecting wood industry for decades
D’S Damat franchise deals ‘show Turkey’s hard-pressed mall operators becoming their own tenants’
Turkey’s benchmark rate held as concerns over faltering recovery come to fore
Turkish lira breaches HSBC’s stop-loss, Turkey ETF signalling outflows
CAUCASUS BLOG : What can Biden offer the Caucasus and Stans, all but forgotten about by Trump?
Armenia ‘to extend life of its 1970s Metsamor nuclear power plant after 2026’
OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
OUTLOOK 2021 Azerbaijan
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
Iran’s President Khamenei menaces private citizen Trump
Iran’s technology minister indicted for failing to properly implement internet censorship
No US move to rejoin Iran nuclear deal imminent, say Biden national security nominees
TEHRAN BLOG: Will Biden bet on a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal?
Central Asia vaccination plans underwhelm, but governments look unruffled
Fears of authoritarianism as Kyrgyz populist wins landslide and backing for ‘Khanstitution’
COMMENT: Mongolia is an island of democracy
OUTLOOK 2021 Mongolia
Mongolia's PM quits amid protests over treatment of mother with coronavirus and newborn baby
Mongolia's winter dzud set to be one of most extreme on record says Red Cross
Tajikistan: Writing for the president is on the wall (and then scrubbed off)
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
Download the pdf version
Hollywood actor George Clooney issued a statement on Monday night saying that accusations by the Hungarian government and its media about his connections with Hungarian born billionaire and philanthrope George Soros are false.
The Hungarian government and its media have used Soros as a bogeyman and a scapegoat for years, accusing him of undermining Europe's security by promoting illegal immigration. Accusations of playing by Soros' playbook are often used in communications to discredit critics of the government.
Soros made his voice heard on the veto of the European budget and recovery fund by Hungary and Poland. In an opinion piece published on commentary portal Project Syndicate the 90-year-old said that Europe must stand up to Hungary and Poland and the EU can’t afford to compromise on the rule-of-law provisions it applies for the funds it allocates to member states.
On Friday, Orban went out in full force against Soros, calling him "the most corrupt man in international politics".
Over the years European leaders, MEPs and journalists have become accustomed to attacks by the Hungarian government when they criticised the deterioration of democratic values in the country but it is rather unusual for a country to unleash a communication offensive against someone of Clooney's calibre.
A couple of days ago the US film star, the recipient of three Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards, talked about his new film The Midnight Sky, of which he is also the director and the protagonist, in an interview with GQ magazine’s YouTube channel.
"The mood of the film was determined by how much anger and hatred everyone experienced around the world. We weren’t in the middle of a pandemic when it happened, but there were still all these other elements, these elements of how much hate and anger were sorts of all of us experiencing at this moment in our history, all over the world. Go to [President Jair] Bolsonaro in Brazil, or Orban in Hungary, or look around, lots of anger and hate…"
Pro-government media were quick to jump on Clooney's comments. Hungary's leading online site Origo.hu dug up a photo showing Soros’ son Alexander with the actor. Later on Monday, the spokesman of the government information centre issued the following statement: "There has been a dispute between George Soros and the Hungarian government over immigration for years, so George Soros uses all possibilities to attack the Hungarian government. It is quite disappointing that there are actors, even non-political actors, who carry out Soros’ political intentions."
One Fidesz MEP called Clooney an "imposter" who speaks "rubbish" about Hungary, a place that he "couldn’t find on the map even by using Google Earth".
The 59-year-old star struck back with a long statement that suggests he is more familiar with Hungary's politics than many would suspect.
Orban's propaganda machine is lying, he said, adding that he had met Soros through his agent once in his life at a UN meeting on the refugee crisis and bumped into his son at an event in Davos. "That's all the communication I have had with him," he wrote.
Clooney then defended Soros' philanthropic work. "He not only provides support to the poor and refugees, but also supported Orban with a scholarship during the change of regime, and the government also accepted support from him in the good old days when Orban opposed communism," he said.
Indeed, Soros financed the Oxford scholarship of the young law student, a key figure of the Hungarian opposition, and other Fidesz politicians as well before the change of regime in 1988-1989. He financed today's ruling party, which at that time was a staunchly anti-Communist, liberal youth movement.
Media analysts say the government is set to lose the communication clash with Clooney. His comments about Orban drew the attention of people who had scant knowledge about Hungary's government or the country.
here to continue reading this article
and 5 more for free or purchase
12 months full website access including
the bne Magazine for just $250/year.
Register to read the bne monthly magazine for
Password could contain only
and have 8-20 symbols length.
Please complete your registration by confirming your
A confirmation email has been sent to the email
address you provided.
can't be empty.
No user with
this email address.
Access recovery request has expired, or you are using
the wrong recovery token. Please, try again.
Access recover request has expired.
Please, try again.
To continue viewing our content you need to complete
the registration process.
Please look for an email that was sent to
with the subject line
"Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have
instructions on how to complete registration
process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in
case this communication was misdirected in your
If you have any questions please contact us at email@example.com
Sorry, but you have used all your free articles fro
this month for bne IntelliNews. Subscribe
to continue reading for only $119 per year.
Your subscription includes:
For the meantime we are also offering a free
digital weekly newspaper to subscribers to
the online package.
Click here for more subscription options,
including to the print version of our
flagship monthly magazine:
Take a trial to our premium daily news
service aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging
For any other enquiries about our
products or corporate discounts please
contact us at
If you no longer wish to receive
Magazine annual print
Website & Archive
Combined package: web
access & magazine print
Take a trial to our premium daily news service
aimed at professional investors that
covers the 30 countries of emerging Europe: