The case against György Szilvásy and the national security chiefs might be of historic importance

Or at least this is what Gábor Török, a political analyst, claims in his blog. Török argues that if the accused are found guilty, MSZP would be in bigger trouble than it ever was after Ferenc Gyurcsány's speech at Balatonőszöd became public. But if the charges turn out to be unfounded, perhaps the job but surely the reputation of Péter Polt, the chief prosecutor, will be in jeopardy. It is also possible–continues Török–that in this case "the present government majority can't escape political responsibility." In a democracy, says Török, "no political power can use means that are considered to be illegitimate." Török thinks that someone did use such means. Some people might be very happy because the affair might serve their political interests, but "it will be a black day for Hungarian democracy when we find out who it was." It seems that Török thinks that some kind of political game is being played here.

Ferenc Gyurcsány's take on the affair is somewhat similar to that of Török, but of course he is a politician while Török is a political scientist who tries to take a "neutral stand." According to him, there are three possibilities: (1) The court declares that Szilvásy and the former national security chiefs are guilty. One can say with all certainty that in this case these people will completely disappear from public life and the political force behind them will be greatly damaged. (2) There was a situation that might have been misinterpreted. So there was something but not as the prosecutors claim it happened. In that case the present government sacrifices the domestic and international prestige of the Hungarian national security apparatus. Such a development could have serious repercussions. Perhaps the government will not fall but its reputation will be badly damaged in the eyes of the western democracies. (3) The charges don't stand up to scrutiny and the accused are acquitted. In this case the chief prosecutor and the whole top leadership of the prosecutor's office most likely will have to resign. It will perhaps be followed by the resignation of the prime minister and his whole cabinet.

Thus Török and Gyurcsány, not exactly bosom buddies, see the situation pretty much the same way. MSZP and the liberal opposition–for example, the Magyar Demokrata Charta–are naturally convinced that these accusations, whatever they are because they were declared to be state secrets and thus we know mighty little about them, are trumped up charges. Ágnes Vadai, MSZP chairman of the parliamentary committee on national security, convened a meeting yesterday to learn more about the case. The military prosecutors appeared before the committee and in twenty minutes they informed the members about the details of the case. Vadai wasn't convinced. Gergely Gulyás, the Fidesz vice-chairman of the committee, found the story believable.

Originally three men were arrested: Lajos Galambos, György Szilvásy, and Sándor Laborc. Yesterday a fourth mystery man appeared who was led together with Szilvásy into the courtroom shackled and on a chain that seemed to me at least three feet long. One wonders why it is necessary to make these people appear in the courtroom in such a way. It is very unlikely that they would bolt and run. To my mind the only reason is to disgrace the person by showing him on television in such a humiliating position. (Critics make the same case against the U.S. "perp" walks.)

It is most likely a significant development that all four men have been released on their own recognizance. If the court found the evidence presented to be well founded, especially if the charge is espionage as is rumored, these men should have remained locked up. Treason, espionage, whatever the exact accusation will be, is a very serious crime punishable by a long prison term.

Although the exact charge is still not public knowledge because of the secrecy imposed on the case by the military prosecutor's office, bits and pieces of information have come to light in the last two days. There were early reports after the arrest of Lajos Galambos, a former chief of the National Security Office, that the case might have something to do with a foundation whose leadership was involved in fraud. The rumor most likely surfaced because Galambos at one point was on the board of this foundation. Another rumor that circulated had something to do with the arrest of a man in Austria who is charged with some illegal stock exchange activity involving MOL shares. He is accused of lending a helping hand to passing MOL shares on to the Russian Surgutneftegaz. That also turned out to be a dead end.

The most likely charge is that these four people were spying for the Russians. It was Hírszerző, an Internet paper which is usually well informed, that broke the news. The paper managed to get some information after the prosecutors reported on the case to the parliamentary committee on national security. At least three of the members leaked information to the journalists. They asked the reporters not to reveal even their party affiliation, but one can easily figure it out just by what they had to say about the happenings behind closed doors. According to one of them who certainly couldn't have been an MSZP member, "the story we heard is very grave. If it is true, in retrospect a lot of things can be seen in a different light." A second informer attested to the fact that the charge was spying for Russia. Another member of the committee, who again asked not to mention his party affiliation but he helped the reporter and the reader along by saying that he is not an MSZP member, expressed his doubts about the information received. He claimed that the accusations were grave but the committee "didn't receive any supporting evidence and thus the whole case sounds unbelievable. Every time we wanted to get evidence the prosecutors and the current members of the National Security Office told us just to believe them. They have the evidence but at this stage of the investigation they cannot say more." Somehow I don't think that this mystery informer was a Fidesz member of the committee.

In this context it is important to realize that the top leadership of the Hungarian security establishment, including Galambos and Laborc, studied in Moscow at the KGB's Dzerzhinsky School. It was Ferenc Gyurcsány who nominated Laborc to head the office because during his predecessor's tenure information was constantly leaked to Fidesz politicians and from there to Magyar Nemzet. Szilvásy's and Gyurcsány's opinion was that Laborc would be able to put an end to all that.

The opposition was dead set against Laborc. In fact, one of the telephone conversations the National Security Office recorded included a request by Ervin Demeter (Fidesz), former minister in charge of national security, for UD Zrt., a private investigation firm manned mostly by former security agents, to spy on Laborc. Demeter wanted to know whether Laborc had visited Moscow recently. The former agents came back empty handed. Laborc hadn't visited Moscow. Moreover, reported the UD Zrt. man, he didn't even meet people from the Russian Embassy as his predecessor used to do. And he added that Laborc "most likely does all this on purpose, although if he followed his real inclination he would be having beer with these security guys from Russia regularly."

Thus if someone wants to create a plausible charge of espionage, Galambos and Laborc are good candidates. Mind you, both of these men served in the National Security Office ever since 1990, including the period between 1998 and 2002 when Viktor Orbán was the prime minister and László Kövér and Ervin Demeter served as ministers.

An update: we learned this morning that György Szilvásy is charged with being an accessory to the crime before the fact.

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Johnny Boy
Guest

In case of Galambos, the court indeed found the prosecution’s charges solid and founded. The difference in assessment was that the court didn’t find it necessary to apply constraint measures on Galambos.
And it is Labord who is charged with being an accessory to the crime, Szilvásy is charged with espionage.

Johnny Boy
Guest

And if you mention Török’s blog, you could also mention Ferenc Kumin’s blog (another political analyst) who says that it would be an extremely dangerous move from a government to trump up such heavy charges because they would probably backfire doing a lot more damage to the government than it could do to the suspects. So, according to him, it’s highly unlikely that these charges are originated from political circles and, as such, are probably founded.

GW
Guest

Could it be that if the present high profile charges are of spying for the Russians that this is smoke and mirrors to distract from the massively overpriced and non-transparent purchase (read: kickbacks) of MOL shares?

Member

The good ol’ Hungarian conspiration theory machine … Ok. Here my $0.02. These guys were involved with the secret service and counter intelligence. They know so much dirt about the current politicians, that the charges will be dropped sooner or later. They are probably also insured against accidents. It’s again the Orban way. These guys cannot do anything right.

Ron
Guest

I apologize for being off-topic. Yesterday, marked the end of the Hungarian Presidency, and immidiately the European Parliament adopted a resolution for Hungary regarding the Contitution and other things that happened, instructing the Commission to do something about it.
See: http://www.euractiv.com/en/future-eu/hungarian-eu-presidency-slithers-debate-news-506315
For the resolution on Hungary, check out texts 3 page 17.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+20110705+SIT-03+DOC+WORD+V0//EN&language=EN

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

GW: “Could it be that if the present high profile charges are of spying for the Russians that this is smoke and mirrors to distract from the massively overpriced and non-transparent purchase (read: kickbacks) of MOL shares?”
I don’t think so but that is also quite a story which deserves an article.

jellem-folyamatosan-haldoklik
Guest
jellem-folyamatosan-haldoklik

spying is dangerous business in hungary.
the new post-communist politicians are orban like corrupt carrierists with a few exceptions.
Gyurcsany is the rare intelligent individual in this zoo.
jobbik leaders are from the inferno creating inferno today. they empower again the desperate citizens to loot, to hate, to murder.
so why should be the police, army and intelligence officers morally upright?

Johnny Boy
Guest

Ron yes you are offtopic, as were the left-wing idiots in the EP when they adopted a resolution despite the agenda was the rotating EU presidency and not Hungarian domestic policies.
Tell me, what significance does it have to have a resolution adopted by the idiot lefties in EP? It is “the European Parliament” only because the lunatics have a slight majority. But let them have their toy, this resolution is nothing else than a vigorous outburst of political frustration. I enjoy seeing them frustrated, that’s what they deserve. They have no say in Hungarian domestic policies, and while it is obvious that they lack the mental capabilities necessary to comprehend this simple thing, reality won’t adapt to the asylum dwellers.

GW
Guest

Johnny Boy, disparaging those who have an opinion different from your own as lacking “mental capabilities” or as “asylum dwellers” instead of arguing the issue at hand merely demonstrating the poverty of your ability to argue and very likely the poverty of your arguments themselves.

Paul
Guest

SB – compare and contrast your first two posts with your third.
The first two are calm and rational, contain information of significance to the debate and give valuable input to help us get this topic in perspective. Neither contain slander or intemperate language, in fact both were fine contributions to the blog.
But you’re right back on ‘form’ with the third post – name calling, unsupported opinion, aggression and pedantry. In short, nothing that adds to the debate at all, but plenty that once again makes us read your posts and despair.
Why can’t you stick with the first style? You’d have no one calling you a troll if you always posted like that.

Jano
Guest

GW: “Could it be that if the present high profile charges are of spying for the Russians that this is smoke and mirrors to distract from the massively overpriced and non-transparent purchase (read: kickbacks) of MOL shares?”
I don’t think so either. They don’t need a cover story for that. In their propaganda, they bought back the country’s independence, so they are proud of it.
I have the feeling that something way bigger is in the background and the media is just shooting around in the dark. Török is right however, in the end, somebody is really going to get burned in this. For the sake of our remaining faith in our justice system, I really hope it’s not the prosecution. (Not that I have any sympathy towards Polt) I agree with Kumin as well. These guys are not that stupid to come up with some obviously bogus case as they have to know how hard it could backfire on them.
Forgive me for being so pessimistic, but I don’t think we are going to see the big picture anytime soon.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “. These guys are not that stupid to come up with some obviously bogus case as they have to know how hard it could backfire on them.”
But think of it. The military court let these spies loose. Have you ever heard of spies to be released on their own recognizance? Thus, my suspicion is that the evidence is weak.
Kumin is a strong supporter of the Fidesz government and I think he gives too much credit to the current political crew.
Yes, I think they can be that stupid. Does anyone remember the “surveillance” case Viktor Orbán announced in parliament in 1998? He accused the former government of spying on the opposition, i.e., on Fidesz politicians. The accusation turned out to be without any merit.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I see Johnny Boy that they have fitted your ‘BUNK-O-MATIC’ (© Mutt Damon MMXI) with the new Hungarian ‘PLOT-O-MAT’ (© Mutt Damon MMXI) attachment. I see it also contains the a modified version of a very old version of the ‘SCANDLE-A-TON’. This contraption was dropped by your teachers in the KGB in the late 1970’s. Johnny Boy you have written ** “Tell me, what significance does it have to have a resolution adopted by the idiot lefties in EP? It is “the European Parliament” only because the lunatics have a slight majority* **. You also write ** “They have no say in Hungarian domestic policies, and while it is obvious that they lack the mental capabilities necessary to comprehend this simple thing” **. Sunny Jim these people will support the true democratic choice of the Hungarian People in 2010. BUT (and it is a BIG BUT) Hungary signed treaties which govern its behaviour towards all European Citizens –which includes the ALL Hungarian citizens-. Break those rules, either by omission (the lack of ‘the rights and freedoms of the press -and other media- in the new constitution), or by commission (the nationalisation of peoples pension payments) and those you have insulted… Read more »
ember-asszony-menni-fog-megint
Guest
ember-asszony-menni-fog-megint

the orbans have forgotten that the borders are open.
their crazy rule will be rejected by the masses, who will leave hungary.
who will stay?
the invalid, and the unfortunate indoctrinated extremist patriots.

Ron
Guest
Yes JB I was off-topic, but the only reason why I was off-topic is that the European Parliament passed a resolution, instructing the Commission to investigate Hungary. This is uncalled for and very swift. I expected something like this, but only in 2012 at the earliest. In a previous topic I informed you that this process will take a long time, as the EU is very bureaucratic. Furthermore, some rapporteurs are currently visiting Hungary about Human Rights. The EP did not even wait for their report to file this resolution. To come back on-topic I found via caboodle.hu a website regnum.ru they are weird in their conspiracy theories. Now it seems that this case is relating in some weird way to block the re-election of Putin. http://www.regnum.ru/news/polit/1421864.html (it is in Russian so you need google translation). Also at the bottom of this article you find a link to an article about the Chinese visit to Budapest. Also very weird. I do not know this website and how serious it is considered in Russia. If considered serious, Hungary may have a problem with Russia. (Conspiracy modus on)I assume the Chinese are behind this try to benefit as much as possible from… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Thanks for the EU link, Ron – but, Jesus, what a hard read that was!
(When you read stuff like that and then consider how many languages it has to be translated into, it makes the brain hurt!)
But, nice as it is to see such strong criticism from the EU (and much sooner than expected), the key question is ‘what are they going to do about it – and when?’
Orbán isn’t exactly famous for taking note of criticism, especially from outsiders. For these resolutions to have any real meaning, they need to be backed up by legal moves, sanctions, etc.
Otherwise OV will just stick his head in the sand and offer his arse for the Chinese to lick.

Jano
Guest

Eva: I think this case is different. The surveillance case was a clear communication trick, but here serious arrests have been made.
About releasing them. It seems quite weird but there might be another explanations. Since these people are well known, their escape would technically prove the accusation. In court practice if there is no danger of the accused fleeing the country, repeating the crime or destroying the evidence then the defendants are usually released.
On the other hand, if you are right you can put the champaigne in ice as you’ll have reason to celebrate soon.
P.S. I perfectly know who Kumin is, he was the chief advisor of László Sólyom. He’s a good analyst, sure he’s not an MSZP fan, but I’ve read lots of articles from him criticising the government too. Anyway, I agreed with what he wrote and not with his previous life so I don’t understand why did you have to write this.
Paul: I’d be surprised if Putin was shaking in his bed because of what’s happening in Hungary. If OV is a serious threat to him by any means, I have the feeling that we’re gonna have our first assassinated prime minister soon.

Member

Ron: Thanks it was a great read. It is nice to see that all of the concerns raised on this blog is not solely our overreaction but concerns that not only shared by the Venice Commission, but the European Union as a whole. At the current time there would be very hard to find a more educated and more democratic governing body as the EU, so their collective opinion should matter to any intelligent human being.
As for the case, it will be certainly interesting to see how it unfolds. I am still curious why some other high profile cases (MOL) does not get the same publicity. I am sure it has nothing to do with media people to be scared to put the focus on items that could be a ‘bit uncomfortable to Fidesz’ own circle…

DAVE
Guest

The essence of these matters does not lie in these imaginary or real details, probing the background, etc… The one and only important fact is that DEMOCRACY is over, and the TOTALITARIAN regime has started… Also, I wholly agree with the opinion that only the lame and the faithful will remain in this country if things won’t change; change fast and at a grand scale!!!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “P.S. I perfectly know who Kumin is, he was the chief advisor of László Sólyom.”
In my opinion a political analyst shouldn’t take a high government job. I remember him from his pre-Sólyom days on ATV and I wasn’t impressed.
I’m even less impressed now. The first time he appeared on András Bánó’s program (A tét) I was appalled by his comments. I think Tamás Mészáros also wrote about his performance on that show–I think without mentioning his name–a few days later. It was outright disgusting. Such cynism and lack of morality.

Jano
Guest

Eva: Well, you want to prove how biased somebody and then refer to Tamás Mészáros???
I didn’t see that particular show so I have no opinion on that, but what I see and read from Kumin is not like what you just described.
“In my opinion a political analyst shouldn’t take a high government job”
Remember that Török was also an SZDSZ advisor and later he became a member of the advisory council of Sólyom too. I see nothing wrong with that as long as someone suspends his/her activities as an independent analyst while holding a position.
But anyway, if the devil says the sky is blue, than I’ll say I agree with the devil. You know very well that we don’t agree in a lot of things, but I don’t go JB and say that what you write doesn’t matter because you’re a friend of the Gyurcsány group.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “here serious arrests have been made. About releasing them. It seems quite weird but there might be another explanations.”
I suggest that you watch an interview with Lajos Molnár, lawyer for Galambos on yesterday’s Egyenes beszéd (ATV). He has another explanation: the evidence is simply not there and the release was based on that recognition on the part of the judge.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

About Kumin. He wasn’t just an ordinary advisor to Sólyom. He was the head of the President’s Office’s Department of Strategy and Communication (Stratégiai és Kommunikációs Főosztályának vezetője).

Johnny Boy
Guest

GW: trying to intervene with malicious actions into something that is none of their business is not a ‘differing opinion’.
They have the same right to prescribe us how our constitution should look like as they have to dictate let’s say what kind of policies the Brits should adopt on their taxation system.
These are completely domestic affairs and despite their attention having been called repeatedly to the fact that they are NOT IN THE POSITION to dictate in any of such domestic issues, they don’t refrain from claiming factually false statements and continuing their attempts to intervene.
This is pure hate and malignancy, and it is not a coincidence that it is the human wastrel like Daniel Kohn-Bandit that does this. Orbán very correctly destroyed him by saying “we both are a rebel type, but you were rebelling against a civilian democracy while I was rebelling against a dictatorship”. It’s the scum taking scummy action, so nothing out of the ordinary.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Paul: “compare and contrast your first two posts with your third.”
I know. I wrote all 2 of them and they were intentional.
The first 2 contained information because that’s what I wanted to disclose.
The third one showed how disdainfully I think of that scum in the EP because that’s what I wanted to disclose.
You may notice that the aggression in the third post was not directed against any of you, but against those in the EP. Since they intervene in domestic policies, I’d be angry at them even if it were MSZP’s government that they are attacking with things that are none of their business.
It’s called protecting your home.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Eva: “The military court let these spies loose”
It is a common error to mistake the ‘letting them loose’ with acquitting them.
The court did not decide that the charges were weak, it decided that no forced measures were needed. This does not equal to them found not being guilty.
Kumin supports the current government but absolutely not to the extent that his sense of rationality would be hurt in any way. So his slight bias doesn’t invalidate his point at all.
“The accusation turned out to be without any merit.”
Not without any merit as it was proven that Pokorni was indeed spied on (look it up), but yes that action backfired. I think they learned from it and that’s why they didn’t say a word in this case and let the authorities do the work.
No one has any valid implication, let alone proof, that the prosecution’s steps were influenced by the government. So any such allegation without facts to back it up are considered political propaganda for a reason. The prosecution is doing the government a lot of damage by not disclosing any information. It is not playing to help Fidesz.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Paul: “Why can’t you stick with the first style? You’d have no one calling you a troll if you always posted like that.”
I did that for quite a long time but that didn’t keep you from calling me troll simply because I posted pro-government information here.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“Otherwise OV will just stick his head in the sand and offer his arse for the Chinese to lick.”
I frankly believe that any country having their arse licked by the Chinese is really in a joyous position.
If you can take the Chinese do it for you then you’ve achieved something.

Member

Johnny Boy: “I know. I wrote all 2 of them and they were intentional. The first 2 contained information because that’s what I wanted to disclose.”
What a load of doggy poo. I think you made a great effort with the first two or someone else wrote it. You could not keep the genie within and it had to come out, so you wrote the others. Let’s face it Johnny Boy, 99% of your posts are the later kind. You are the later kind.

Jano
Guest

Eva: While this is clearly a possibility, I wouldn’t put a dime on what a defense lawyer says.

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