Parliamentary investigation Hungarian style

Of course, I'm talking about the sub-committee created to investigate the events of the fall of 2006 after Ferenc Gyurcsány's speech at Balatonőszöd was leaked. To this day we don't know who was responsible for handing the tape over to Viktor Orbán. Of course, I don't have proof of a direct route from informant to the Fidesz party leader, but we can infer, based on Viktor Orbán's public speeches during the summer of 2006, that he knew its contents long before it was released to the public. It was in July that he began returning time and again to the theme of "lies." His opponent's victory was based on lies, and as a result the Gyurcsány government was illegitimate.

In any case, the decision was made that the tape shouldn't be released until close to the local elections, scheduled for sometime in October. September 17 was deemed to be a good day. As it turned out, the Fidesz leaders were right. A siege of the public television station followed where the unprepared police force was unable to control the crowd. After some 200 policemen were wounded, the few still standing fled.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 there was again trouble. The police handled the situation somewhat better, but the policemen on the scene were unable to prevent the mixing of the mob that physically attacked them with the Fidesz supporters just leaving a mass rally where Viktor Orbán made a fiery speech. I'm not going to go into the details of why Fidesz organized this demonstration so close to Kossuth Square where the less savory elements had been gathering for weeks on end and why the police allowed Fidesz to hold the meeting allegedly commemorating the anniversary of the revolution at the Astoria Hotel where nothing of importance happened in October 1956.

Soon thereafter the government asked nine independent experts to write a comprehensive report on the events of the fall of 2006. The panel included experts in history, sociology, and the law as well as former high-ranking police officers. They were asked to study the events in their historical, psychological, and sociological context and to evaluate the appropriateness of the force used and the legality of the measures taken.

The committee's report was submitted to the government on February 2, 2007. It is a measured 260-page document. The chairman of the committee was Katalin Gönczöl, a law professor, and therefore one often hears about the "Gönczöl Committee" in place of its official, long name. The introduction to the report emphasized that the members of the committee didn't want to pin guilt on anyone because the committee wasn't supposed to take the place of the justice system. The report is worth reading, including the historical background that sketches out the failed Hungarian attempts at making it in this world. There is talk here about the Hungarian predilection to blame others for their problems, be they the Austrians, the Russians, the Jews, or the "commies." The historical section is most likely the work of Mária Ormos while the detailed description of the unpreparedness both mentally and physically of the police was done by Antal Kacziba and Mihály Vörösmarti, former police officers.

In addition, the opposition relied on another report by Krisztina Morvai, today Jobbik EU parliamentary member. Her report is more compassionate and less objective. One could call it partisan. It is a one-sided description of the police brutality that certainly occurred but not to the extent Ms Morvai tried to portray. She listened to only one side and therefore the value of her work is questionable.

So, there were two reports. If they didn't quite satisfy Fidesz the party could have suggested setting up a parliamentary committee to investigate the "true" story of these events. An investigative parliamentary committee according to house rules must follow the principle of parity. That is equal numbers representing the government and the opposition. Although between 1998-2002 Fidesz never once allowed the creation of such an investigative committee despite several requests by the opposition, between 2002 and 2010 during the socialist-liberal rule every such request was acceded to. Yet, Fidesz didn't push for the creation of such a committee. One could ask why not.  Tamás Bauer thinks that a committee based on parity was not to Fidesz's liking. Now that they are in power they can simply set up a sub-committee under a standing committee and in that case the government parties can have the majority. This is especially handy when the government members of the sub-committee have preconceived ideas of the outcome.

The young chairman of the sub-committee is Gergely Gulyás, a lawyer and a relative newcomer to Fidesz. I predict a fantastic career for Mr. Gulyás in the party because in my opinion he has all the necessary qualifications with the added benefit that he seems to be smarter than the others who are also entrusted with Fidesz's political retribution game, like Ferenc Papcsák, Gyula Budai, or his fellow sub-committee member Máriusz Révész.

MSZP decided not to take part in the work of the sub-committee. One can debate whether this was a smart move or not. Sure, it doesn't look good that they refuse to "investigate" their own alleged sins, but at the same time how can anyone sit next to Tamás Gaudi-Nagy, György Budaházy's lawyer who was an active participant in the mob action in the fall of 2006? Or to investigate together with Máriusz Révész who claims he was beaten senseless by the police on October 23, 2006? Yes, these people are also members of the sub-committee.

Both Gulyás and Révész have made it clear in public that they are convinced that the police received "political orders." And who gave these orders? Ferenc Gyurcsány himself. This is what they are trying to prove, thus far unsuccessfully. They are trying their darndest to find at least one person who will say, "yes, the prime minister told me in no uncertain terms to beat the peaceful demonstrators to a pulp." So far no luck, but the search continues. Sometimes with innocent babes-in-arms on their side. Like LMP's Tímea Szabó who seems to be entirely oblivious to what's going on and who praised Chairman Gulyás (who is indeed very smooth) for his objectivity and fairness. The minutes of some of the meetings are already available.

Although most likely the Fidesz members of the sub-committee will come up empty-handed, politically these proceedings may be very useful for Fidesz. They want to keep alive the public outrage at the illegalities of a "dictatorial" socialist regime. The adjective "dictatorial" comes from the most reliable source, Viktor Orbán himself (July 29, 2006). Meanwhile a few days ago a documentary film became available on the internet on the "siege" of the television station. There one can see the bloodthirsty Hungarian policemen being brutally beaten by the "revolutionaries" who attack the symbol of oppression with the words: Ria, Ria, Hungária, a soccer chant.

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Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

It would be a completely hopeless task for me to try and counter all the lies in this post. There are so many many completely untrue statements that it would need a post 10 times this big to answer them all.
This post intentionally falsifies about each molecule of information (just one example: Gyurcsány himself said, with his very own voice, that he was in direct contact with police leaders during the television siege – no need to prove it). I’ll try to find some English articles on the results of the sub-committee to provide reliable information.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Szilárd: “I’ll try to find some English articles on the results of the sub-committee to provide reliable information.”
Good luck! I’m looking forward to seeing them.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

Just as a small addition, here is a short video footage (with subtitles) of what happened on the 23rd of October, 2006:



As for Máriusz Révész, who “claims to have been beaten”, look here:
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And a video recording of him being beaten up, despite the fact that he wanted to negotiate with the policemen while approaching them by holding his MP identity card high:
http://index.hu/belfold/mariusz9623/

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

One quick find about the television siege: http://www.dunatv.hu/english/news/inside_hungary/szilvasy_avoids_parliamentary_hearing.html
In essence, it is about the very high probability that Gyurcsány, much like Adolf Hitler with torching the Reichstag, was speculating on the death of one or more policemen in the siege, thus intentionally holding nearby capable police forces back from intervening.

Paul Haynes
Guest

A long shot here, Szil, but do you, perchance, also happen to believe that 9/11 was the US government’s own doing and that Princess Di was killed on orders of the Queen?

Pete H.
Guest

Szilard says :
(just one example: Gyurcsány himself said, with his very own voice, that he was in direct contact with police leaders during the television siege – no need to prove it)
Eva never made the claim that Gyurcsány was not in contact with police. She said there was no evidence he gave a political order. For a head of state to not be in touch with the police during such a violent riot in the heart of the capital would have been irresponsible. It’s absurd to think he would not be appraised of the situation.
So what other “molecules” do you have an issue with? Go ahead make an attempt to restore your credibility.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Szilard: “it is about the very high probability that Gyurcsány, much like Adolf Hitler with torching the Reichstag, was speculating on the death of one or more policemen in the siege, thus intentionally holding nearby capable police forces back from intervening.”
I think you’re mad.

Odins lost eye
Guest
Oh my God the ‘jossman’ (padre) has fallen right out of his tree! It would be strange indeed if during a major riot in any major town or city that the police chief had not reported several times to the Premier and perhaps the President to appraise them of the situation. It would be interesting to have been able to eavesdrop on the cell-phone calls in Budapest that night. From these you could easily ‘put the finger’ on the organisers. There will always be some indiscipline in the police ranks. Imagine master ‘Sky Pilot’ that day you were to have had a ‘rest day’ and you wanted to do some gardening. Instead you have to put on your heavy riot suit. You are bussed to a now crowded police station where all the facilities are under stress because of the number of people (long queues for the toilets, for coffee, nowhere to sit etc). You get your ‘body armour and your hard hat’ (more weight) and not very comfortable –One size fits all-. By now you are very hot. Eventually you are deployed on the streets with senior officers who are strangers to you. There you face a howling mob… Read more »
Mark
Guest

” Of course, I don’t have proof of a direct route from informant to the Fidesz party leader, but we can infer, based on Viktor Orbán’s public speeches during the summer of 2006, that he knew its contents long before it was released to the public. It was in July that he began returning time and again to the theme of “lies.””
Do you have evidence that Orbán had the tape before 17th September? I find your logic difficult to follow. I was in Hungary in July-August 2006 after the announcement of the Gyurcsány programme and the entire Hungarian population – including MSZP party members were talking about Gyurcsány’s lies. All Orbán would have to have been was vaguely awake during this period to realize that “lies” were a good talking point for an opposition leader. Therefore I can’t accept that this proves he knew of the existence of the tape before 17th September (and his behaviour in the days following its release, when there was some confusion in his communication, suggest that he didn’t know about it in advance). But if you have information that is not in the public domain please do tell us ….

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mark: “But if you have information that is not in the public domain please do tell us.”
I think I made myself pretty clear. I have no direct proof but one can infer….

Mark
Guest

Éva: “I have no direct proof but one can infer….”
But it is a case of infer from what? My problem here is that I remember the period pretty well. Everyone was talking about Gyurcsány being a liar, illegitimate and immoral during summer 2006 – even liberals and Socialists. I can’t see that Orbán’s speeches alone prove anything, other than he believed the MSZP had lied to win the election (which was by that time widely believed by everyone). I’m sure he didn’t need a secret tape to believe the government was “illegitimate” – remember this is the person who never conceded defeat in 2002, and when asked about what he intended to do in opposition replied “the nation cannot be sent into opposition”. On the basis of what we actually know, we are dealing in conjecture here – just like Gulyás and his parliamentary committee are.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Sure, people talked about Gyurcsány’s lying because after the elections he had to introduce austerity measures. Something he hadn’t talked about earlier. However, the word “illegitimate” was introduced by Orbán in Tasnádfűrdő. I assume that Orbán already knew about the tape in mid-July because by July 22 Fidesz published a one-page manifesto called, “Good morning Hungary!” which was built around the topic of “political lie.” Difficult to tell what came first, the chicken or the egg. It is possible that people talked about lies and illegitimacy because they read it or heard reports of the Fidesz publication.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Pete H: my credibility was never lost, take a look at the videos and it is obvious that most of the statements in the original post are lies.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest
Ok, let’s lay down some facts for everyone to know. * The police on 23rd of October was violating law due to orders of their supreme officers: they took down the mandatory identification badges to avoid being identifiable when committing crimes. * Most arrested people were not involved in the riots, they were passers-by and many of them had their cell phones, bags and personal things stolen, thrown into the Danube or destroyed by the police. * As many testimonies concordantly claim, many arrested but innocent people were tortured on police order, and the tormentors were later invited to a banquet. (Examples: on some persons’ heads were thick wool caps for hours, pulled down to the chin and fully saturated by tear gas, while their hands were handcuffed behind their backs. Or: it was common that the fingers of kneeling, handcuffed people were intentionally broken by police officers.) * First instance judgements were made on “conveyor belt”, 97% of them were changed by the court of second instance. The vast majority of prosecutor and first instance court actions were violating the law of proceedings in many points. These are proven, documented and widely known facts. Any person who denies these… Read more »
Alias3T
Guest
I was there on 23 October. There were two distinct phases. First, you had a bog-standard riot with skinheads facing off against protesters who were being driven from Nyugati down Bajcsy towards Deak ter. Then things settled down into a stand off on Deak – burly young men wearing ski masks shouting “Gyurcsany takarodj” creating makeshift barricades out of street furniture, and the police in a disciplined line. The police fired tear gas cannisters and advanced very slowly, but this period was a lull. The second phase came when the tank started. At that point, everybody suddenly became – not to put too fine a point on it – shit scared. I was standing quite near the tank where it started. It set off at maybe 30kmh and headed straight into the crowd. From where I was standing, and from lots of other vantage points, it looked like dozens of people must have died. It was a terrifying moment. It wasn’t clear for some time afterwards that there had been no deaths, and frankly it was a miracle that nothing serious did happen. That’s the point when discipline broke down, when police started running everywhere, when bystanders started getting involved… Read more »
Alias3T
Guest

On Revesz Mariusz – I don’t know what he claims now, but at the time he claimed to have been hit by a plastic bullet. I wasn’t surprised, I was almost hit by one, and I was keeping a distance.
I looked at the Hir TV video you linked in – I’ve seen most of them before – and it looks consistent with my chaos theory.
There should have been resignations. There should have been prosecutions. Police discipline cannot be allowed to collapse. But the way events unfolded was a shock to everyone there. It did feel a bit like a civil war.

Odins lost eye
Guest
Mr AliasT3 I only saw bits of the riot on TV. I saw the tank which would have done much damage if it had not ?stalled? Which was what I thought it did, but I have a feeling that someone got on board it and may have switched it off. The loss of discipline was probably due in part to the lack of understanding between the squad commanders and their men. Men must know and trust their small unit commanders and vice versa. If these ‘section’ or ‘squad’ leaders panic either because of lack of training (and what police man is trainer to face armoured fighting vehicles –even old ones) or because of a fragmented command structure/loss of control and command network/ things get out of hand, cohesions lost. Eventually from what I saw some sort of order was restored amongst the badly shaken and panicky police. If the tank had still been available to the rioters it would have soon become a full scale rebellion. Who ever got hold of the tank, I believe, that was their intention. By the way the my wife told me that ‘Might One’ (Orban Victor) left the Astoria for Buda in an armoured… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest
Alias3T: “On Revesz Mariusz – I don’t know what he claims now, but at the time he claimed to have been hit by a plastic bullet.” Over the years Révész said many things. I clearly remember that the first time there was a segment on his case on the television news he was quite chipper and no outward signs of any wound was visible. Next day, his right arm seemed to be made motionless and on his head there was a white cap. He was surrounded by some of his colleagues. I definitely remember Navracsics. This time he looked as if in pain. A few days ago Olga Kálmán asked him why on earth he, after leaving the rally, headed toward trouble. This time he claimed that headed in this direction because he got a telephone call from his mother who was distressed. However, I remember that at the time he claimed that he went there because he wanted to talk to the police. During the same conversation he also claimed that he remembers nothing of the whole day due to his head wound. So, it is hard to know exactly what happened to him. Otherwise you are right. The… Read more »
Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

Alias3T is lying, Révész has NEVER said such a thing, he consistently maintained to have been beaten by the policemen he approached.
Luckily you dictatoric Stalinists no more have the say in power!
I sincerely hope that everyone who has committed these crimes gets caught and punished.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Eva: how do you think you can get away with such blatant lies when I’ve posted the links to the photographs and video of Révész?

Alias3T
Guest
Szilard, why do I have to be lying? Why can’t I be allowed just to disagree with you? Especially because I think the story of Revesz is the least salient issue about the events of that autumn. As it happens, I know people were beaten up by the police. I saw it. I described the atmosphere to you in a previous post. There were violent confrontations everywhere that night. It was terrifying. When it was all over we all wondered up to Felvonulas ter, very late at night – it was deserted by that time – and sat there smoking wordlessly. None of us could quite believe what we had seen. Beyond question, investigations should have been brough against police leaders. Individual accusations of brutality should have been investigated more thoroughly than they were. Being shit scared doesn’t give a policeman an excuse for getting it wrong. The police are given an extraordinary amount of authority in the context of a free society; in return for this they should be held to the highest standard. In short, if they slip up, then they should be punished – we might find mitigating circumstances for an ordinary citizen, but for a uniformed… Read more »
Sandor
Guest
Just a couple of remarks. About the lies and Gyurcsany’s speech we must note that the fidesz must have had the control, if not de facto possesion, of the recording. This has to be so simply because only this way could they use it the way they did, to their own advantage. The speech was precisely about Gyurcsany’s objections to the party’s institutional dependence on lying, but by releasing the full text it wouldn’t have served the fidesz’ purpose. So, they wrung the rhetorical juice fully from it, before they agreed to the release at the strategically advantageous time. My other remark is concerning Morvai Krisztina’s report, which is neither objective, nor thorough. As it is enumerated in the website http://www.morvaikrisztina.com the report, although in its structure emulates the Goncol Report, only accounts for 167 injuries and amongst them only one police man. The number of injuries were over a thousand and the majority were policemen. In the historical review section it ceaselessly harps on the evils of communists to link the present events to them, at the same time chooses to “step blithely over” all the reprisals and murders that were perpetrated against socialists, liberals and Jews during the… Read more »
Paul Haynes
Guest

Szilárd, just check through these posts at random and you’ll notice one rather odd thing – there’s only one person on here who accuses other people of lying.

Paul Haynes
Guest

Alias3T – we weren’t in Hungary at the time and didn’t see the TV coverage over here, so I know little or nothing about what happened, but I am puzzled by your reference to a ‘tank’. Do you mean an actual tank? If so, what on earth was it doing on the streets of Budapest?

Odins lost eye
Guest

Yes Paul it was a real WWII tank an old T34 mod 85 (T34/85). It came from a private collection where it was kept in running condition. My wife told me that the organisers of the Demonstration had permission to borrow it but that starting equipment had been removed. She also said that someone had put a replacement set of the removed gear was hidden in a bag inside the unit. She had ‘contacts’
Have a look at thest two they are exactly the same



http://www.metacafe.com/watch/307149/tank_attack/
Actually the riot started with a repeat of the events of 1956 then it all went ‘pear shaped

Alias3T
Guest

The tank was there as part of an exhibition of the kind of hardware that was on the streets of Budapest during the uprising. There were jeeps, guns and transport buses from the era.
It had a small amount of fuel in it, just enough to get it into place, so the nutters who climbed inside and started it were able to drive it 40 or 50 metres before it stalled.

Passing Stranger
Guest

Of course, the conspiracy theorists believe the tank was purposely put there by the secret police with the fuel in it to cause havoc. Why put fuel in an exhibit, they ask sceptially. A giant conspiracy is clearly more acceptable to them than the notion that even an exhibit needs to be driven there. In politics, I find, incompetence is almost always a better explanation than design.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Paul: and the reason is simple for that – because named people are simply lying.
I provided video and photo evidence, have you seen them? What do you think?
(As newsflash, the prosecutors started another investigation against the then-leader of the prison wardens based on the testimony of several wardens.)

Paul Haynes
Guest

Thanks for that link, Alias3T, I never saw any of the TV coverage, so I am sitting here stunned at what I’ve just seen.
As you said, it must have been absolutely terrifying for the people on the street, especially with the speed the thing was doing and its erratic behaviour. Most people have never seen a tank close up, and certainly not one that was moving so fast. No wonder the demo became so chaotic afterwards.
I can’t imagine anything like this happening over here, in fact I can’t imagine the police even allowing the tank on the streets to start with. And if something like this had happened, there would immediately have been an enquiry and heads would have rolled all over the place.
Needless to say, when I showed this clip to my wife, her immediate comment was “but of course Gyurscány set it all up”.
I find this the saddest thing about the whole episode.

Paul Haynes
Guest

Szilárd – yes, I looked at your ‘evidence’.
But all I saw was a clearly one-side video, edited to support one particular point of view (and, no doubt a similar video could easily be put together to illustrate the exact opposite pov), several photos of a man who (presumably) was claiming to have been beaten up by the police (Police beat up demonstrators? Man invents wheel. I was on several demos in the miners’ strike in the 80s, so I have seen my share of big coppers without badges and demostrators “falling over” and banging themselves on the head or breaking their arms), and a video that is shot from so far away and is of such poor quality, that, quite frankly, it ‘proves’ nothing (I couldn’t make head or tail of it).
What you gave us is not evidence, it is just selected video and photos intended to support your point of view. And therefore largely worthless.

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