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Croatia: Treatment Of Financier Soros Criticized

Washington, 26 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department yesterday criticized authorities in Croatia for publicly defaming American financier George Soros and his humanitarian foundation.

Spokesman James Foley said the U.S. believes Soros and the Open Society foundation are making valuable contributions throughout central and eastern Europe, including in Croatia, to free speech and democratization.

Foley made the comments when he was asked about the conviction in Croatia last week of two members of the humanitarian foundation on charges of tax evasion. Karmen Basic, head of Open Society Croatia, and the foundation's accountant Ivanka Marton were found guilty in a Zagreb court of falsifying financial records by paying employees in cash to evade taxes.

Foundation officials have said the trial was politically motivated. They said charges were filed only after Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in a speech branded Soros as an enemy of the state.

Spokesman Foley said the U.S. calls on the Croatian Government to resolve the situation and allow the Soros foundation to continue operating in Croatia.