"To strike while the iron is hot," an idiom both in English and in Hungarian, seems to be the Fidesz strategy in creating yet another pseudo scandal. As if the current "surveillance" weren’t enough, Magyar Nemzet came out with an unsigned article entitled "Manhunt after three men." The article talks about an alleged surveillance carried out by the Medgyessy government way back in December 2002. The targets were Viktor Orbán, Lajos Simicska, and István Kalmár (former head of the Hungarian Postal Service, Magyar Posta). But, of course, one has to be very careful with Magyar Nemzet as it is well known for its unfounded or misleading reporting.
It seems that the paper got hold of a proposal from an unnamed private detective agency. This proposal, according to the article, came about as a result of "political instigation" (politikai ösztönzésre). Whatever that means; I for one can’t make any sense of it. What kind of "political instigation" are we talking about? Magyar Nemzet likes to be oblique. The "political instigator/instigators" whispered something into the ears of the head of the unnamed firm sometime in November 2002, and on December 13 the firm sent a proposal to somebody. Magyar Nemzet doesn’t reveal the details. We have no idea where this letter was sent. Was it the prime minister’s office where at that point László Keller as undersecretary was in charge of checking on the many very shady financial affairs of the Orbán government? It remains the newspaper’s secret.
In this letter the firm promised that they would gather documents about the criminal activities of Simicska, Kalmár, and Orbán. They promised to gather information about Simicska’s activities as the head of the Hungarian Internal Revenue Service where allegedly Simicska and his friends managed to get rid of some uncomfortable pieces of information about earlier Fidesz companies and their demise. (By the way, the official investigation at the Internal Revenue Service couldn’t come up with anything tangible about the destruction of documents.) As for Kalmár, the author of the letter claimed that he had committed tax fraud. And as for Orbán, the letter claimed that the firm would produce documentation of the former prime minister’s "illegal enrichment of himself and his family, for example, through real estate purchases in Paris." They asked 95 million forints plus expenses for their services.
I assume that the Magyar Nemzet actually managed to get hold of a letter, but we don’t know more than that. We don’t know whether it’s real or fake. We don’t know the sender or the recipient. And we have no idea whether the unknown addressee ever responded to the detective agency’s offer.
The government is investigating while Orbán is not surprised. According to him, the socialist government learned these tricks from the Kádár regime. They simply cannot get rid of the old ways of the dictatorship. "There is nothing new under the sun…. I have known our opponents for a long time. The Hungarian people has had enough time, more than forty odd years to get to know them."
While one could read Magyar Nemzet in the morning, in the afternoon one could have the pleasure of hearing Lajos Kósa talking to György Bolgár in his call-in show. He went a mile a minute without interruption starting with greeting not only Bolgár and the listeners of KlubRádió but also "Comrade Kovács." Who is Comrade Kovács? He is the unknown agent who is listening in on his telephone conversations. (Although later he corrected his earlier statement: not listening now but could listen if this law went into effect.) He talked incessantly and so fast that by the end one hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. But I think that was his aim. I loved a short note by a listener who wrote in the internet forum attached to the show: "Does he ever take a breath?" Why are they this nervous?
This morning Népszava published an article from which we learn that Fidesz is awash in debt. In 2006 the party took out a loan for 1.5 billion and last year an additional 400 million. It is hard to fathom how they could pay everything back by 2010 as they swear they will. This is a heck of a lot of money. Especially for a party in opposition which lost the last two elections.