A collaboration between four non-profit investigative centres reveals the extent of Hungary’s influence-peddling in neighbouring Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia as the national-populist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán ploughs hundreds of millions of euros into grants for Hungarian minority organisations abroad.

Journalists from Átlátszó Erdély (Romania), Átlátszó (Hungary), the Centre for Investigative Journalism of Serbia, the Jan Kuciak Investigative Centre (Slovakia) and Oštro (Slovenia) found that Hungary has spent at least €670 million in such grants over the past decade, renovating churches, rebuilding schools and supporting NGOs working in ethnic Hungarian communities in the region.

Yet this outpouring of cash is anything but transparent. The state-run Bethlen Gábor Fund (BGA) has more than €1.4 billion for ethnic Hungarian projects in territories that were once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but there is no centralised, searchable and up-to-date public database offering clear information on projects financed with taxpayers’ money.

By scraping BGA data and documents, the investigation led by Átlátszó Erdély revealed where a huge chunk of that money has gone, from Orbán-friendly media outlets to political parties with ties to Budapest. The result is an unprecedented glimpse into how Orbán’s government uses soft power to exert influence across borders.

See the full findings on hungarianmoney.eu, a website dedicated to the project, or check out the stories in English, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian and Croatian below.

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