Still a duel: Viktor Orbán versus Ferenc Gyurcsány

Viktor Orbán undoubtedly thought that his time for revenge had arrived. Once he became prime minister he could do practically anything he wanted, and very high on his list was sending Ferenc Gyurcsány, his predecessor and nemesis, to jail. I spent quite a bit a time over the last year or so on the various attempts to find a good opening for an assault on Gyurcsány, but interestingly the administration wasn't successful. There were two possible points of attack: the events of September-October of 2006 and the King's City project which, had it been completed, would have been a boon to the Hungarian economy.

A parliamentary subcommittee with a Fidesz-KDNP majority and with the assistance of Jobbik and LMP tried to find damning evidence that Gyurcsány gave explicit instructions to the police concerning the treatment of the not so peaceful demonstrators in the fall of 2006. That attempt failed.

At about the same time Gyula Budai, who was named commissioner in charge of corruption cases of the former government, began to "investigate" the King's City project. Budai is a primitve and most likely not very bright fellow who likes to boast about his great skills as a detective. Several times he came out with the alleged smoking gun: he found absolute proof that Gyurcsány explicitly instructed the office in charge of the sale of state properties to make a deal that was advantageous to the prospective buyer and disadvantageous to the state. Two of the leaders of the office were promptly arrested and kept in jail for months without being formally charged. Finally, when the case got to the court, the judge released them: there wasn't enough evidence to keep them in jail. Moreover, since then both men have emphatically stated that the prosecutors were interested in only one thing: was Gyurcsány in any way involved? Both men were certain that a show trial was in the making.

So, Budai's efforts were also in vain, but there was still one possible avenue for launching court proceedings against the former prime minister. Way back in October 2009 András Schiffer in the name of the newly formed LMP sued Gyurcsány because, according to him, the King's City project's "special status" was not immediately made public. The charge was "abuse of authority." Schiffer's case got nowhere–until now. The prosecutors claim that they have been furiously investigating in the last year and a half, but charges were just brought against Gyurcsány, two weeks before the statute of limitations would have expired. The prosecutors must have been in a great hurry because, as we will see later, the indictment was rather sloppily put together. But, then again, that is nothing new in Hungary.

It was on April 28 that the prosecutor's office informed the speaker of the house, László Kövér, of their intention to question Ferenc Gyurcsány not as a witness but as the accused. Gyurcsány is a member of parliament and as such he enjoys immunity from prosecution unless the parliament's committee on immunity releases him. On Monday, May 2, János Lázár felt that he as the head of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation had to say something. His statement was an interesting combination of feigned concern for legality and an outright lie. He expressed his hope that the committee will deliberate the question very carefully, adding that Gyurcsány should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This was the feigned concern part of his announcement. And then came the lie. According to Lázár this is a very serious case which involves a "one billion forint crime." I don't know where Lázár gets his one billion figure from, because it is a well known fact that not a cent was lost. After all, the real estate swap didn't take place. Second, talking about "the most serious crime since the change of regime" doesn't indicate to me respect for the principle of presumed innocence.

A day later, on May 3, György Rubovszky (KDNP), the chairman of the committee on immunity questions, announced that he "has some doubts" about the indictment. If members of the committee agree, he will ask the prosecutor's office for additional material. In plain language, the prosecutor's office turned in a lousy indictment on the basis of which at the moment even the Christian Democrat Rubovszky doesn't feel comfortable acting one way or the other. He also added that the committee will not act hastily and it might take a whole month before there is a decision.

Ferenc Gyurcsány is an impatient man and has no intention of waiting for the committee's decision a month from now. He decided to counterattack. I mentioned two days ago that the government's granting "special status" for very important investments is a fairly common practice in Hungary. I brought up as an example that the same deal was granted by the Orbán government to Audi. Ferenc Gyurcsány naturally has been following the details of the negotiations between the current government and Audi and decided to ask Orbán some questions about the special status granted to Audi. According to the house rules, a letter to the prime minister by a member of parliament must be answered in writing.

* * *

First, he calls Orbán's attention to an interview with Miklós Tátrai, former CEO of the office handling state properties in which Tátrai said the following: "While in the case of Sukoró [King's City] the prime minister verbally asked for handling the swap within the limits of possibilities, this summer the current government gave written instructions to the office to sell the pieces of land picked by Audi to the German firm. And this written instruction also included the price." On the basis of this information Gyurcsány is asking the following questions from Viktor Orbán:

(1) Did you or any member of your govenment meet the representatives of the owner of the Audi Hungária Motor Kft.? Please give the exact time and place of the meetings, the names of the participants, and the topic of the negotiations.

(2) Were notes, memoranda, minutes, or recordings taken at these meetings? Please send me the copies of such.

(3) Did your government decide on the sale of land belonging to the Hungarian state in order to make the Audi Hungária Motor Kft.'s investment in Győr possible? 

(4) What was the form of the decision–decree, resolution, or something else?

(5) Were notes, memoranda, or recordings taken at the cabinet meeting at which the members of the government or undersecretaries made the decision that certain lands could be purchased by Audi Hungária Motor Kft.? In case there are such records, please send me copies of these memoranda, notes, or recordings.

(6) Did the government or any of its members instruct the Office of State Properties to sell land belonging to the state to Audi Hungária Motor Kft.? In case the answer is yes, in what way did this instruction take place? Decree, resolution, something else? Please send me a copy of such instructions by the government or members of the government.

(7) Did the government prepare an impact study of the sale of the land under discussion? Did the study include an assessment of the value of the land? In case the answer is yes, please send me a copy of this impact study, especially the expert opinions of the real estate assessors.

(8) Please let me know what kinds of instructions were given to members of the government or organizations under their jurisdiction concerning their tasks in the interest of implementing the decision. Please give me inforrmation about the way the people involved completed their tasks.

* * *

The best defense is a good offense. We know, for example, that no minutes are taken at cabinet meetings and therefore it is very unlikely that Orbán can produce all of the material Gyurcsány is demanding. By house rules, Orbán must answer in writing. I'm curious what his answer will be.

 

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Troll Paul
Guest

It will be the usual OV ‘attack and slander, rather than actually answer any of the questions’ reply. He’s probably got JB writing it for him as we speak.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Duel maybe in your dreams.
Gyurcsány is far below the league of Orbán and I frankly don’t see any chances for Gyurcsány to emerge to a level where he can be a worthy opponent of Orbán.
If he ends up in jail, so much the less.

Johnny Boy
Guest

One actor repeatedly calling out to the other, not realizing his own insignificant position, doesn’t make it a duel. The answer, if any, will be appropriate.

GW
Guest

Charges of lack of transparency in governance are administrative not criminal. Above and beyond the fact that “the deal” did not take place, there is no western legal system under which such charges, without a quid for a quo, will lead to jail.
More importantly, in terms of parliamentary oversight in a democracy, is the fact that Gyurcsány is demonstrating here precisely how such administrative charges can and should be investigated through the parliamentary apparatus. Of course, after eight years of Fidesz neglecting their responsibilities while in the parliamentary minority, this may well be unfamiliar to most Hungarians.
A legitimate criminal charge, on the other hand, might be based on an investigation along these lines: “How is a former prime minister, on the salary of a member of parliament, able to purchase the land and build a large private home in Budapest’s District XII?”

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy: “Gyurcsány is far below the league of Orbán and I frankly don’t see any chances for Gyurcsány to emerge to a level where he can be a worthy opponent of Orbán.”
I guess that’s why Gyurcsány beat Orbán to a pulp in the 2006 election debates.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“I guess that’s why Gyurcsány beat Orbán to a pulp in the 2006 election debates”
Beat maybe in the eyes of the primitive, yes, to whom aggressive, bounder hamming may seem better than moderate behavior.
But that is the past and now we are in 2011, and the fact that you judge a politician’s stature by one instance of a public debate tells a lot about why you still turn a blind eye to the most obvious.
Compare Gyurcsány’s and Orbán’s career and see that Gyurcsány, having a huge financial and political background, in a few years completely destroyed himself and almost took his whole party with him, while Orbán, through a span of 20 years, built up and successfully managed to victory his party under his own power against the huge background power of Gyurcsány and his comrades.
And Orbán is here to stay while Gyurcsány bites the dust and is on the verge of getting jailed, but you just insist on them being “opponents”.
This resembles the Black Knight as depicted by Monty Python.

Johnny Boy
Guest

GW: “How is a former prime minister, on the salary of a member of parliament, able to purchase the land and build a large private home in Budapest’s District XII?”
The statement of wealth of Orbán is completely public and you can find your answer there, so you may as well stop pretending to ask totally irrelevant questions.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy “The statement of wealth of Orbán is completely public”
With a few gaps. It didn’t matter how it was calculated about 100 million was missing.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“It didn’t matter how it was calculated about 100 million was missing.”
No there was not one forint missing, you lie, and Orbán won all lawsuits against the papers that spread this lie. There is no gap there whatsoever.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy: “[Gyurcsány] beat maybe [Orbán] in the eyes of the primitive”
Well, there must be an awful lot of primitive people in Hungary because I remember that well over 60% of the people thought that Gy. won. Even Fidesz voters had to admit that their man was beaten.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy: “and Orbán won all lawsuits against the papers that spread this lie.”
Please give us details. I’m dying to know all the details about those lawsuits.

GW
Guest

Johnny Boy,
Orban’s income as officially reported is insufficient to even buy the piece of land that house was built on.

Member

Just an interesting bit: Gyurcsany and Bajnai are also suing Budai for 3 million HUF each for claiming that the two former prime ministers gave false testimonies in the Sukoro case. The world is having great fun. The circus is session.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt Damon: “Just an interesting bit: Gyurcsany and Bajnai are also suing Budai for 3 million HUF each for claiming that the two former prime ministers gave false testimonies in the Sukoro case.”
I may add that Jobbik is suing Field and Gyurcsány for spreading false rumors!

Johnny Boy
Guest

Eva: look them up for yourself. Search for around 2006, or when Orbán, without obligations, made his wife’s statement of wealth public as well.
GW: “Orban’s income as officially reported is insufficient”
Lie.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Check:
http://www.gondola.hu/cikkek/14111-Orban_pert_nyert_a_Tenyek_ellen_.html
“Helyreigazításra kötelezte Orbán Viktor és felesége, Lévai Anikó vagyoni helyzetével kapcsolatos valótlan közlések miatt a tv2 televíziót tulajdonló MTM-SBS Rt.-t a Fővárosi Bíróság csütörtökön kihirdetett jogerős ítéletében.
A Magyar Hírlap és a Vasárnapi Blikk esetében már korábban jogerőre emelkedett a Pesti Központi Kerületi Bíróságnak ugyanebben az eljárásban kihirdetett hasonló tartalmú elsőfokú döntése, miután az ellen csak a tv2 fellebbezett.”
Now feel free to ignore it, that’s what you are going to do anyway.

Member

“I may add that Jobbik is suing Field and Gyurcsány for spreading false rumors!”
Somebody should sue the Jobbik for something – like promoting racism. It is really like a circus, when the clowns are running around in the intermission trying to kick each-others butt. No wonder the country is in total apathy.
Johnny, you have to agree. There’s no need to spread lies about Hungary. The whole world is laughing it’s ass off.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy: “look them up for yourself. Search for around 2006, or when Orbán, without obligations”
Sorry fellow, but you claim that he won several law suits. You have to prove it.

Kirsten
Guest

ad “you lie” or outright “lie”. I thought about it already in relation to the “2006 scandal” but the frequency with which this word has been used here in the last few days makes me think again. I am not sure whether the meaning of the word “lie” is not stretched a bit too far in some instances.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Eva S. Balogh: there you have it, go continue ignoring my link and pretend as if I didn’t give you anything.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny boy: “Eva S. Balogh: there you have it, go continue ignoring my link and pretend as if I didn’t give you anything.”
You know I have other duties in life than answering you within minutes. Among other things I spent good two hours at rehab today.
I looked at your link and unfortunately this wasn’t the complete picture. It is possible that the house in Buda cost only X amount of money but it was completely revamped that may have cost close to 100 million. We don’t know exactly how much because Orbán refused to divulge the exact price.
Then there was the 45 million for the apartment in Pest. It was “sold” to Dezső Kékesy, the business partner of the Orbáns who was rewarded for his services to Fidesz by being named ambassador to France. Where, by the way, he was a disaster.
The apartment was “sold” to Kékesy’s son-in-law for much higher price than it was worth and Kékesys unable to get rid of it for months. Thus the 45 million was just in name for the price of the apartment. It was something else, and the apartment was just a cover.

Member

Duels are fun!
Eva vs. Johnny – 2 : 0 so far!
5 bucks on Eva.

Paul
Guest

The lie detector is ticking away tonight!
And, while you’re at it, JB, I’m still waiting for those sources you promised the last time you mentioned things “many” papers had printed.
And there’s quite a few of the other posters on here still waiting for verification of your various claims.
Any chance? After all, you wouldn’t want us to think you were lying, now would you?

Paul
Guest

Mutt, you’re not going to get many takers on those odds.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt Damon: “Duels are fun! Eva vs. Johnny – 2 : 0 so far! 5 bucks on Eva.”
And I even forgot one more thing. The Orbán’s bought the land in Felcsút for little money. BUT a very expensive house was built on one piece of the property. Where did the money come for that? Another interesting source of money. Orbán published a book that was simply a collection of his speeches and the “publisher” paid him 18 million in advance!!!

Member

… and his 4.5 million severance in 2002. If the retroactive “tax” would have been extended to 10 years then Vic would have owed a cool million to the republic …

Paul
Guest

To the country, Mutt, not ‘republic’.
Tut, tut.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Eva: I’m eager to see sources that support your claim, and eager to see any source that proves that the lawsuit referenced in my link doesn’t touch your topic. (Hint: it does.)
Mutt: 2:0 to me as I stood up for my word and proved what I had to, Eva did not do it yet.
And Orbán has published a few books that earned him some money (all these are included in his statement of wealth so you are off the mark here again).

Johnny Boy
Guest

By the way, how is Kékesy or the publisher of the book in any way affiliated with public money?
And how do you “know” the details – of course, you don’t – that make that 18 million “in advance” payment in any way unlawful?
Eager to see any justification…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt Damon: “and his 4.5 million severance in 2002. If the retroactive “tax” would have been extended to 10 years then Vic would have owed a cool million to the republic .”
Let me add another item. The 40 million “government assistance” for the Tokaj vineyard. While he was prime minister. When his business partners came up with the idea to apply for the grant his only concern was that they shouldn’t be the ones who get most. Indeed, they got the second most while hundreds got nothing!

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