The new old Hungarian Guard

I managed to gather quite a bit of new information on the group allegedly responsible for the murders of Hungarian Gypsies over the last year, but my feeling is that in the next couple of days we will know much more and the details will probably be more reliable. So I would rather switch gears and talk about the new old Hungarian Guard.

As I mentioned earlier, Jobbik and its paramilitary arm, the Magyar Gárda, are unfazed by the Hungarian court’s decision that the Hungarian Guard is not allowed to continue its activities. But even as they soldier on, they are trying to find legal loopholes that would circumvent the court’s decision. One such attempt was the announcement that this new Hungarian Guard is not the old Hungarian Guard. This argument, according to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, is legal nonsense. The Hungarian Criminal Code makes it crystal clear that what Jobbik and the leaders of the Guard are doing actually constitutes a crime. Another attempt to get around the law was the decision to hold its swearing-in ceremony on private property. The property belongs to Imre Kisanyik, a wealthy businessman from Szentendre. Kisanyik has been active in far-right circles for some time and was involved in the establishment of the Hungarian Guard. This is not the first time that Kisanyik welcomed hundreds of guardists on his estate. Here are some details of the events in Szentendre prior to the second swearing-in ceremony of the Hungarian Guard in 2007: András Bencsik, one of the original organizers whose wife came up with the design for the uniform, spoke fondly of Kisanyik whose property was a perfect place for the guardists to learn how to march.

I became curious about Kisanyik’s name; it sounded foreign to me but I didn’t know where to place it. Eventually I found out that Kisanyik’s ancestors came from Dalmatia after the Turks withdrew from Hungary at the end of the seventeenth century when a lot of people from the still Turkish occupied territories came to Hungary. About 6,000 of these, mostly Serbs but also some Catholic Croats, settled in Szentendre. Kisanyik is a somewhat distorted form of Kisanic, which is indeed a Croatian name. And if anyone doubts the Kisanyik family’s Croatian origin, it is enough to look at the election results for ethnic minority representatives in Szentendre. Kisanyik, the great Hungarian patriot, is one of the representatives of the local Croatian minority. So the local Croatian politician is providing space for the fiercely nationalistic Hungarian Guard! I find this rather amusing.

This new Hungarian Guard has embellished the old Hungarian Guard’s uniform as yet another step toward establishing themselves as a new police force, the gendarmerie. As one can see on this photoGardistak-csendorok, the word “csendőrség” meaning gendarmerie is imprinted on their backs and on their arm bands. The feather on the caps is also new. They are imitating the old Hungarian gendarmes whose uniform included feathers. Here is the original headgear; I must say that these new single feathers look decidedly puny in comparison!


Apparently this new swearing-in ceremony was planned for Budapest, but the Budapest police were not impressed by the “newness” of the organization. Neither were the Esztergom police. So they had to come up with something else. Enter the Croatian minority representative Sir Galahad, Imre Kisanyik. The initiation was accompanied by a “family picnic,” I assume for the family members of the 620 new guardists. Of course, the police knew about the forthcoming event and were present in full force way ahead of the announced 3 p.m. start of the picnic. They arrived at 10 a.m.

The police–illegally according to some “legal experts”–entered Kisanyik’s private property and began to check identity papers. They took the names of 176 men and women against whom they began proceedings because of “participation in an activity of a disbanded organization.” Gábor Vona, who was present, immediately threatened the police with a law suit because the police illegally entered private property. A curious argument. Since when are police barred from entering private property when they know that illegal activity is transpiring there? A bank robbery is in progress. Is it a private bank or a public bank? If it’s a privately held bank and hence private property, according to this argument the police should hang back. Or if there’s a reported disturbance where the husband is trying to kill his wife–sorry, the police can’t enter private property. And, anticipating the last bastion of Jobbik’s brilliant legal defense team, Kisanyik’s property isn’t exactly a church–so no safe haven ecclesiastical law defense.

Legal experts will argue endlessly in the next few weeks whether, on the one hand, the police were justified in their actions and, on the other, whether they did enough or should have arrested the whole bunch. After listening to the speeches and seeing the video provided by HVG I think that there was plenty going on there that would have warranted multiple arrests, including such luminaries as Gábor Vona and Csanád Szegedi, Jobbik EP MP. But I don’t want to second guess the police here. Maintaining a data base of groups that threaten domestic tranquility is critical. On a lighter note, I do hope that the Hungarian Guard is not planning to have a choir. Their singing is very, very bad.