Foundation Pressured by Serb Leadership
The Soros Fund, a humanitarian foundation supporting democratization in Europe's former communist states, has come under attack by the Serb government and media, which appear to be trying to drive the foundation out of the country.
Milenko Radic, the head of the Fund for Democratic Development, linked to the Belgrade government of Slobodan Milosevic, has complained to Serbian authorities that billionaire George Soros, Hungarian-born head of the fund, "has no sympathies with Serbs" and has supported Western military aid to the Muslim-led Bosnian regime, as well as strengthened sanctions against Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia.
Radic, who called for the fund's expulsion from Serbia, said "the main aim of this fund is to bring about political and economic change . . . in order to earn higher profits."
Radic's outburst closely followed a demand by the Ministry of Culture in Serbia that the Soros Fund provide a full accounting of its activities inside the country, which include financial support for the Serbian opposition press.
A campaign against Soros also has begun in Serbia's official media.
The Soros Fund in Budapest supports about 50 independent media enterprises, including the weekly magazine Vreme, Studio B, the Belgrade television station that is a leading opposition forum, the B-92 radio station, and the formerly-Communist 'Yugoslavist' daily Borba.
The anti-Soros effort has been ascribed to irritation in Belgrade's ruling circles at the activities of the opposition press.
The attacks against Soros have featured some allegedly anti-Semitic shadings, with Radio Television Novi Sad in the Vojvodina region of northern Serbia denouncing Soros as a "Hungarian who suffered frustrations in his youth because of the Holocaust and Stalinism . . . who is now prepared for revenge in Eastern Europe."
A Novi Sad journalist, Elvira Fekete, said Soros hopes to "Americanize" young members of the "ethnic minorities" in the region so as to undermine the region's governments.
The Belgrade Writers Association condemned the RTV Novi Sad coverage for using anti-Semitic language.
Sonja Liht, president of the Soros Fund in Belgrade, described the attacks as reminiscent of "Goebbels and Stalinist propaganda."
Liht pointed out in a Belgrade television interview that the Soros Fund delivered $9 million in medicines and medical equipment last year in Serbia and Montenegro, which make up the new Yugoslavia, and planned to furnish $15 million worth this year.
She said the fund would initiate a libel suit against RTV Novi Sad.