“Polypgate”: It’s racheting up

A brash so-called political scientist came up with the bizarre notion that the political "winner" of the week (between September 25 and October 2) was Ervin Demeter. The other four people around the table looked at him in total amazement. What? Yes, he said. Why? "Because his party decided to prop him up." Well, I guess that's something, but I wouldn't brag about it. Moreover, I don't think that Demeter is a happy camper at the moment.

The same young politicial scientist made another observation a couple of days later: "Fidesz has found its voice." At last its leaders know how to handle the UD Zrt. affair. Well, I have my doubts about this too. They may have come up with a temporary strategy: attack and redouble the attack with false accusations, but the problem is that the evidence is mounting against Fidesz. And the chief prosecutor is no longer Peter Polt. Polt was a Fidesz man from his university days. Orbán and Polt used to play soccer together. When Polt lost his bid for a seat in parliament he was compensated with the job of chief prosecutor after Fidesz allegedly blackmailed his predecessor to resign. To this day we don't know why he agreed. In any case, Polt  became a key figure, especially after Orbán lost the elections in 2002. He never allowed any investigation to proceed that might be injurious to Fidesz. But he is gone, and the new man seems to be a straight shooter. So the demands coming from UD Zrt. and Sándor Csányi not to continue with the investigation fell on deaf ears. No computers will be returned to Sándor Csányi until their contents are thoroughly investigated. Complaints against the National Security Office's "illegal" wiretaps were also dismissed. The investigation is proceeding on all fronts.

That's the first piece of bad news for Fidesz. The second is that it seems that Szilvásy, minister without portfolio in charge of national security, has more up his sleeve than he divulged at the beginning when he released the CD at the request of the non-Fidesz members of the parliamentary committee. Of the 30 or so conversations only seven had anything to do with László Kövér and Ervin Demeter, two of Szilvásy's predecessors. These seven conversations were immediately made public by Fidesz, and one could charitably call them "conversations between old friends." But, it seems, there is evidence that Fidesz was actually a paying client of UD Zrt. There were contracts that were fulfilled. For services rendered payments were made. Szilvásy told Der Standard, an Austrian paper, that he has proof that Fidesz was a paying client of UD Zrt. He repeated this charge in an interview with Népszava in which the reporter jokingly asked whether they paid sales tax on services rendered. Szilvásy answered, lightheartedly but pointedly, that the only thing he was not sure of was whether they paid the sales tax.

So the investigation is proceeding and it may last several months because apparently there are millions of documents that must be combed through. UD Zrt. meanwhile is complaining that its business activities have come to a screeching halt. They will go bankrupt. Well, perhaps they should have not engaged in illegal activities. Of course, if UD Zrt. had been an up front private investigation company, it would not have been so phenomenally successful. Moreover, it turns out, one of the reasons that UD Zrt. was such a cash cow was that it parlayed major capital outlays for spyware technology (to the tune of billions of forints) into outsized profits. Just to give you an idea of how sophisticated UD Zrt.'s technology is and at what a disadvantage the Hungarian National Security Office is, here is a telling story. The National Security Office doesn't have the equipment necessary to discover whether the computers they seized have resident programs capable of destroying data. Apparently since they confiscated the UD Zrt. computers there has been at least one attempt from a "distant location" to wipe out their data. Luckily the people at the National Security Office managed to foil the attempt.

And finally. Until a couple of days ago Sándor Csányi's role in this whole affair was politely ignored. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious as the media are becoming emboldened that Csányi, president of the largest bank in Hungary and the richest man in the country, is very heavily involved in this whole affair. The way János Tóth, one of the owners of UD Zrt., talks to Csányi on the tape released by Ibolya Dávid points to a close tie between UD Zrt. and Csányi. I would go so far as to speculate that Csányi might be the "boss." We'll have to see how this plays out.

Finally, when the four political scientists got together in András Bánó's "A tét" (The Stake, ATV) there was a young fellow, new to me, from Századvég (the think tank of István Stumpf, who allegedly wanted to spend two billion forints to get rid of Ibolya Dávid as chairman of MDF) who said that it doesn't matter what the outcome of the investigation is: Fidesz voters will not abandon their party. Everything will remain the same. Interesting, isn't it? I do believe that political fortunes can turn easily, especially if the public realizes that the party they support is engaged in illegal activities.