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Hungarian President Signs Bill Giving Government Control Of Academic Research

]Hungarian President Janos Ader

Hungarian President Janos Ader has signed a bill that will allow the government to take control of academic research, a move that researchers have condemned as a threat to scholarly freedoms.

The action on July 12 by Ader, an ally of far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban, strips the Academy of Sciences (MTA), a partially state-funded body, of its research network, many of its buildings, and control over scientific research.

The government says its aim is to boost innovation and has called the MTA – which was founded in 1825 -- an inefficient relic of the communist past.

Critics have expressed concerns that the move will lead to an exodus of scientists from Hungary.

Some had asked Ader, a former member of Orban's ruling Fidesz party, to send the bill to the Constitutional Court for review before the signing.

The Hungarian parliament passed the bill on July 2, with 131 of lawmakers in the 199-seat assembly voting for it.

Critics of Orban, who came to power in 2010, say he has tightened his control over most key institutions in Hungary, including the media, judiciary, and the education sector.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP