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Hungary's president signs bill aimed at Soros-founded school

Hungarian charities fear proposed law aims to 'discredit' them

Tens of thousands of Hungarians protested in central Budapest on Sunday against new legislation that could force the Central European University (CEU), a school founded by financier George Soros, to move out of the country. The ministry said the amendment of the Act on Hungarian education did not affect the work of the Hungarian part of the CEU, which could continue to work as a Hungarian institution, as soon as the leadership of the two countries - the United States and Hungary - sign an agreement of mutual support.

The marchers included students and university staff, many wearing the blue of the Central European University (CEU) and some waving Hungarian, EU and U.S. flags on Kossuth Square outside parliament on Sunday.

"The government does not close down any universities and does not close down CEU either ..."

Orban earlier said CEU was "cheating" and enjoyed an unfair advantage over other local schools because its students can earn both USA and Hungarian diplomas. The university now enrolls more than 1,400 students from 108 countries. Yee is also expected to meet with authorities from the university.

President Janos Ader, an ally of Orban, has to decide on Monday whether to sign the legislation, return it to parliament or send it to the Constitutional Court if he has legal objections. It was the largest anti-government protest in years.

Opposition parties were quick to criticize Ader, a Fidesz politician who was re-elected by lawmakers to a five-year term in March.

Other chants included "A free country, a free university", "We've had enough", "Viktator!" and "Europe, Europe".

Soros hit back, saying in a statement that while he tried to "uphold European values", Orban's actions "undermined those values".

Protesters, many of them students, filled the entire square outside the parliament, which was heavily defended by police, some in riot gear.

Many chanted for President Janos Ader to veto the legislation.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban considers Soros an ideological foe whose "open society" ideals contrast with Orban's plan to make Hungary an "illiberal state".

Orban alleges that non-governmental organizations supported by Soros, including corruption watchdog Transparency International and rights advocate Hungarian Helsinki Committee, are "foreign agents" working against Hungarian interests.

A law expected to be passed in May would force nongovernmental organizations getting more than $24,500 a year from overseas to register with authorities.

A demonstrator shows his banner with the text "Let's stop Viktor Orban!", as Students and teachers of the Central European University protest in Budapest with their sympathizers on April 9, 2017.