"I'm asking why the head of state of the Slovak Republic paid a private visit to a person with a very dubious name, and that person's name being Mr. Soros," PM Robert Fico said at a press conference in early March 2018.

Prime Minister Robert Fico has been repeating the conspiracy story about the influence of George Soros since 2018, after the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. When tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against his government at the time, Fico, still as prime minister, hinted at the connection between Soros and then-Slovak president Andrej Kiska in front of journalists. He had also indicated that the activities of the Za slušné Slovensko (For a Decent Slovakia) civil initiative, which organised anti-government protests, were instructed or financed by the philantropist.

At that time, when Fico’s government was falling and so was Smer’s popularity, it seemed that the Soros conspiracy theory would receive no response in Slovakia. But a recent survey shows that these unsubstantiated claims have been resonating with the Slovak population.

Almost half of the people in Slovakia believe that the 93-year-old Hungarian-born American financier George Soros is trying to control the Slovak government and pushing his agenda through it, shows the survey carried out by the Focus polling agency and the Globsec think-tank for the Eastern Border Initiative (TEFI) international project in early 2024.

While in Slovakia and Romania the conspiracy theory about Soros has gained popularity, Hungarian society seems to have gradually tired of the ongoing political campaign against Soros that government politicians have been fueling since the mid-2010s. The survey also shows, however, that nearly two thirds of pro-government voters in Hungary agree with the statement that Soros 'is trying to control the government and install his agenda in the country'. Among opposition voters, this view has a minimal acceptance rate.

Yet, in another survey (conducted by Závecz Research in the spring of 2024), four out of ten Hungarians agreed that ‘George Soros and his family are behind the leaders of the European Union’.

 Conspiracy theories about Soros in Slovakia

In Slovakia, former authoritarian-leaning premier Vladimír Mečiar talked about Soros influencing politics in Slovakia as early as the nineties. At that time, he called the billionaire an enemy of the state.

Soros’s name was later mainly used by the disinformation scene in Slovakia, up until 2018. Fico repeatedly spoke about Soros in the years that followed, when his Smer was in the opposition (2020-23). He claimed that Ludovít Ódor’s caretaker government (2023) was not chosen by President Zuzana Čaputová, but by Soros himself. The four-time premier also often repeated that the SME daily is owned by Soros, which is not true.

Fico and the disinformation scene refer back to Slovak journalist Martin Šimečka’s statement from 2018. In a discussion with citizens at the time, Šimečka said that without Soros’ money, Slovakia would not have defeated Mečiarism.

According to Fico, the 90-year-old man was also behind the opposition-led anti-government protests in January 2024, and Ivan Korčok’s decision to run in this year’s presidential election.

"The repeated presence of Soros in Slovakia in the course of several months is only a confirmation about the financial background of the protests and Korčok’s presidential candidacy," Fico said at the beginning of February.

A group of opposition parties financed their anti-government protests themselves. Korčok paid for his campaign with donations from his supporters, sent to his transparent bank account.

Soros as a campaigning issue in Hungary

The Hungarian government has been running permanent campaigns suggesting that the country has faced existential threats since 2015: migrants, terrorism, Brussels and war are among these threats, says Péter Krekó, a political analyst and senior researcher at the Political Capital think tank.

The biggest anti-Soros campaigns in the country began around 2017. After George Soros called Viktor Orbán ‘the builder of a mafia state’, the Hungarian government launched its anti-Soros campaign on billboards and in all media platforms. The Central European University was chased out of Budapest, while a billboard and media campaign was launched using the image of a grinning George Soros with the slogan ‘Let's not allow Soros to have the last laugh!’ Later on, the government-controlled newspaper Figyelo began listing ‘Soros organizations’ and independent researchers with alleged conspicuous links to the ‘Soros network’.

Soros has dominated the political language in Hungary to such an extent that independent researchers have even been able to compile a ‘Soros dictionary’ with more than 600 entries. Most of them are freshly fabricated political terms, constructed in recent years to denigrate their enemies: ‘Soros campaign’, ‘Soros University’, ‘Soros stooges’, or ‘Soros blog’ to label any independent media.

The strategy to make an enemy out of George Soros was designed for Viktor Orbán by American political campaign consultant Arthur Finkelstein.

"George Soros was a good target," Finkelstein’s collaborator George Birnbaum told the BBC, "because enough people in Hungary didn't like the idea of this billionaire behind the curtain, almost like…the Wizard of Oz, controlling politics and policy."

Soros’ money in Slovakia

Soros is an American financier of Hungarian and Jewish descent. He made billions of dollars from investments and financial speculation. He spends part of his wealth to support civil society and other philanthropic goals.

A branch of his Open Society Foundation was established in Slovakia in the nineties. Through the foundation, Soros financially supported the activities of non-governmental organisations, which were mainly involved in building the rule of law or in the inclusion of excluded Roma communities.

Soros withdrew from the Open Society Foundation in 2012, at which time the Slovak branch also became independent.

"George Soros left and invested approximately $100 million in Slovakia over 20 years," Fedor Blaščák, the current administrator of the Open Society Foundation, said in an interview with SME a year ago. Of the sum, $70 million were distributed through the foundation. The remaining $30 million directly supported various projects, to a large extent the media, Blaščák added.

Fico and the disinformation scene interpret that the financial support of the non-governmental sector, which ended about a decade ago, and which, thanks to the mobilisation of the opposition electorate in 1998, may have played a part in the fall of Mečiarism, as evidence that Soros is still trying to control governments.

Smer and SNS voters biggest believers in the Soros story

The survey confirms that Fico’s strategy has worked. Up to four out of five Smer and SNS voters believe in the Soros conspiracy, as well as the majority of Hlas voters. All three parties formed a coalition government in October 2023 to rule Slovakia.

Hlas voters are less radical than Smer and SNS voters in some matters.

Most opposition voters do not think Soros is trying to control the government. The voters of the strongest opposition, Progresívne Slovensko (PS) party, think so the least.

People who obtain information about what happens in the country from alternative media, as the survey refers to disinformation media, believe in the conspiracy about Soros the most, and people who get information from mainstream media the least.

The same survey was conducted within the TEFI project in Hungary, Poland and Romania. In Romania, opinions on Soros’ influence are similar to those in Slovakia. In Poland, on the contrary, this conspiracy theory did not find wide support.

Paradoxically, more people believe in the Soros conspiracy in Slovakia than in Hungary, even though Soros had been more active in Hungary and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was attacking him long before Fico. However, this is not because people in Hungary do not believe in conspiracy theories about Soros.

"It’s more because the Hungarian government [positions itself] as an embodiment of the fight against Soros and the successful defence against his alleged influence," explains Globsec analyst Dominika Hajdu.

In its 2019 European Parliament campaign, Orbán’s Fidesz proclaimed that ‘Soros wants to strengthen pro-immigration forces, so he mobilises parties and organizations that support him everywhere to attack anti-immigration governments’.

Adjusting to the new reality

George Soros is now 94 years old and much less active in public life. The Hungarian government has so far ignored this fact in its political communication. Recently, it has been attempting to elevate George Soros' son Alex to the role of the main antagonist. A poster campaign was launched with Alex Soros’ portrait in autumn 2023 and was condemned by Soros’ Open Society Foundations as ‘propaganda steeped in anti-Semitism’. The billboards featured him together with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in the original pictures. The text read: ‘Stop dancing like they whistle!’

Both Brussels and the Soros family are accused by Fidesz of wanting to impose mass migration on Europe and of being pro-war. The latter is the buzzword and code name in the Fidesz propaganda for someone who supports Ukraine against Russian aggression. Ahead of the EP elections and local elections in June, Fidesz campaigned on a slogan of peace, branding its opponents as pro-war actors. While previous billboards used the words ‘STOP SOROS!’, in the spring campaign the billboards featured ‘STOP HÁBORÚ’ (STOP WAR), with the faces of George Soros and opposition politicians.

A conflation of EU institutions and the Soros family is a recurring narrative in Viktor Orbán's propaganda. Antal Rogán, the minister in charge of the Hungarian government's propaganda machine and secret services has combined two of his favorite enemies: 'Brussels', which they like to call the new Moscow, and Soros. The Hungarian prime minister, speaking after the recent decision of the European Court of Justice regarding a €200 million fine against Hungary over its asylum system, said that this ‘unprecedented and outrageous ruling’ was made by ‘George Soros's court’ in order to create a mixed-race society in Europe under the ‘Soros plan’.


This article was written in the framework of The Eastern Frontier Initiative (TEFI) project. TEFI is a collaboration of independent publishers from Central and Eastern Europe, to foster common thinking and cooperation on European security issues in the region. The project aims to promote knowledge sharing in the European press and contribute to a more resilient European democracy.

Members of the consortium are 444 (Hungary), Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland), SME (Slovakia), PressOne (Romania), and Bellingcat (The Netherlands).

The TEFI project is co-financed by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.