The Russian view of Paks; the right-wing rant on the united opposition

I’m staying with yesterday’s topics: Russian-Hungarian relations and the most important domestic development, the new united opposition. But with a difference. In the case of the Russian-Hungarian understanding, I will take a look at Russian reactions. How does the Russian media view these developments? As far as the gathering of the opposition forces is concerned, I will share some excerpts from the right-wing press, especially Magyar Nemzet and Magyar Hírlap.

I was initially skeptical that whatever Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán signed the other day would be more advantageous to Hungary than to Russia, or even equally advantageous. And not just in economic terms. But I became truly concerned this morning when I saw a Hungarian translation of a Russian article that appeared in the well-known Russian daily, Kommersant. The author of the article, Andrei Kolesnikov, called attention to Viktor Orbán’s eagerness to please his Russian partners. The reporter pointed out that the Hungarian prime minister volunteered the information right after the ceremonies were over that Hungary will fulfill all its obligations as far as the Southern Stream project is concerned. There is no formal connection between the agreement signed on the Paks nuclear power plant and the Southern Stream project, and therefore mentioning the controversial arrangement was not at all necessary. Orbán’s reference to the pipeline could serve only one purpose: to make it clear that regardless of EU objections Hungary will go through with the project. He is ready to engage in another fight with the bureaucrats in Brussels, this time over the Russian pipeline.

I became curious about other Russian media reactions and found an incredible number of articles. In addition, I was lucky enough to catch a radio interview with Zoltán Sz. Bíró, a historian of present-day Russia, whom I consider one of the most reliable and knowledgeable students of Putin’s Russia. According to him, Viktor Orbán’s visit was the leading news item on the Russian state television station. Hungary was hailed as “the most independent country in the European Union.” Long opinion pieces appeared about Orbán, who was described as “the ally of Putin within the European Union.” One article’s headline hailed the agreement as a great victory for Russia because, after all, now “Eurasia is at the Danube.” According to another analysis, this Russian-Hungarian agreement is more than an economic act; it is a kind of political alliance. Another reporter described the event thus: “We already bought Ukraine, and now we are buying Hungary.” The goal of Russia, according to Sz. Bíró, is to have an ally inside of the Union, to whom under certain circumstances Russia can turn. To have a country that can be the spokesman for Russia in Brussels.

Of course, there are also critical voices concerning the Russian-Hungarian deal, mostly in the relatively small independent media. Critics don’t understand why Russia has to spend billions and billions when the Russian economy has slowed considerably in the last few years. It was not too many years ago that the Russian GDP grew 6-7% a year. Today, if all goes well, that figure will be 1.4%.

Although we have no idea what interest rate Hungary will have to pay on the loan, apparently the Russian finance minister already indicated that it has to be high enough to equal the interest rate at which Russia would be able to borrow in the market. This would indicate that the interest rate will not be as low as János Lázár would like us to believe.

Today’s Russia is a politically much more oppressive country than it was before the 2011-2012 elections. The election was rigged, the urban middle classes are increasingly dissatisfied with the regime, and in turn the government is clamping down more and more. To have such a close relationship with Putin’s Russia is anything but wise. Andrei Kolesnikov in his article in Kommersant called attention to the similarities between Putin and Orbán: “the Soviet gene is alive in both of them, whether they like it or not,” which makes them kindred souls.

And as long as we’re on the theme of “the Soviet gene,” perhaps it might interest you to know that Ágnes Seszták, who is a regular contributor of opinion pieces to Magyar Nemzet, began her article about the new five-party alliance this way: “The chartered train arrived which brought Comrade Rákosi, Comrade Gerő, and Mihály Farkas to the podium. Comrade Révai is ill-disposed but he will join the group. Oh, what am I talking about? This is not that age. This is the team of today.” The reference was to the joint appearance of Attila Mesterházy, Ferenc Gyurcsány, and Gábor Fodor on ATV. Gordon Bajnai was invited but couldn’t attend. This is how the right-wing propagandists assist the Orbán government’s efforts to equate the present-day socialists and liberals with the the worst figures of the Rákosi regime.

As the Orbán government wants to portray the social democrats and the liberals

The way the Orbán government wants to portray the social democrats and liberals

Another regular, Miklós Ugró, called the left-center gathering “the little nincompoops” (kis idétlen). I guess that is better than comparing it to the Rákosi-Gerő-Farkas-Révai quartet, but Ugró couldn’t resist calling these politicians comrades who “loathe each other”(rühellik egymást). And the style doesn’t get any more acceptable as he goes on. He mentions “the few political traveling salesmen [vigéc] who betrayed LMP.” Solidarity is “a collection of rowdies [tahók].” And his final word is that this team is nothing but the “reconvening of the old MSZP” that naturally ruined the country and would again if given the opportunity.

Zsolt Bayer in Magyar Hírlap also accuses the socialists of all sorts of sins.  They still consider György Lukács and Oszkár Jászi their intellectual heritage–a murderer and a traitor. They dare to adore Béla Kun and the other commissars, although only in secret.  But their real idol is Kádár. As for Gyurcsány, he is “the greatest, the vilest, the most disgusting crook of the regime change.” Yet, the pro-government forces and voters shouldn’t think that Gyurcsány’s presence will take votes away from the present left-of-center alliance. No, he will bring votes “because they are like that.” Thus, the right has to fight doubly hard to win this election because if “the socialists lose in April, they are really finished. For ever and for good.”

Bayer could have given Attila Mesterházy sound advice. If he had decided not to get together with the others and MSZP had run alone at the next election, he would have had a chance to be prime minister in 2018. “But this way he will disappear with the rest of the crooks. Forever!”

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James Atkins
Guest

It is extraordinary that someone can be so filled with hate as these Fidesz commentators seem to be, based on their articles. Carrying a deep hate like that for a long time don’t you risk getting a cancer or heart problems?
Strange, sad people. They must be so messed up inside.

James Atkins
Guest

A political party which draws much of its strength from hate is really an odd bedfellow of the Catholic Church. Does Pope Francis know?

do right
Guest

Well done, Finkelstein brigade!

Smear the few remaining decent Hungarian politicians.

A republican consultant, who does not mind the raging oppression of Hungary.

He should be really outspoken about the FIDESZ sins.

lutra lutra
Guest

All this spleen is to the Left alliance’s advantage. You get your opponent angry; his agression causes him to make mistakes, you exploit them; you beat him.

Istvan
Guest

I think just to be clear the EU does not oppose nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants generate about 30% of the electricity produced in the EU. There are currently 132 nuclear reactors in operation in EU member countries. Each EU country can decide whether it wants to include nuclear power in its energy mix.

I don’t like it, here in Chicago we are surrounded by aging nuclear power plants. I don’t know about the quality of Russian technology, but for sure Westinghouse has had its problems too. Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors are being built in the UK right now and I know there has been opposition to that in the UK. My bet would be the Russians will give Hungary a sweet heart deal compared to financing for AP1000 reactors.

Manx
Guest
Among the many issues the most important is that Hungary does not need the electricity from Paks II. We already have problems at times selling electricity at night, in Germany nighttime electricity is sometimes sold at negative prices, the nuclear producer pays to the buyer. A nuclear station must operate at constant levels regardless of the demand and other circumstances. Also one of the myths is that Paks – at current electricity prices – is profitable. It makes a small profit but only because the power plant has been depreciated already, the blocks are at the end of their originally planned useful lives. Their lives were prolonged as they can still operate, but accounting-wise it is a huge trick that the depreciation is much-much smaller. So it is a myth that Paks is the cheapest electricity (not even counting handling of the waste and such like, also costing hundreds of billions of HUF) and therefore Paks II will be cheap too. Prices must increase at least twofold, probably significantly more just to break even. I am not sure what will happen if we can import cheaper energy from outside but will be stuck with power stations producing electricity at double,… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :

James Atkins :
It is extraordinary that someone can be so filled with hate as these Fidesz commentators seem to be, based on their articles. Carrying a deep hate like that for a long time don’t you risk getting a cancer or heart problems?
Strange, sad people. They must be so messed up inside.

How right you are! I’m pretty sure that the flavor of some of these sentences is lost in translation. For example, “traveling salesman” which. as I indicated, is “vigéc”in the original. It comes from German “wie geht’s” “how are you? What’s up?” As I was looking for a good English equivalent I discovered the British “bagman.” Perhaps it would be closer to the true meaning of “vigéc” which is a contemptuous term.

The use of word also has an ant-Semitic flavor, it also used to be used as a derogatory term for a Jewish traveling salesman..

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

Official photos of Orban in Slovakia from a couple of days ago – worth watching his face.

http://nepszava.hu/galeria/476-orban-addig-uti-amig-meleg—kepgaleria/fullscreen/

Vut
Guest

gdfxx: true re vigéc.

tappanch
Guest

Please notice that Orban went to Switzerland just before signing the deal in Moscow.

Perhaps he checked on his Swiss bank account whether his personal cut had arrived from Moscow.

Peter
Guest

tappanch: word on the street is that Orban, Simicska and friends prefer to use Far-Eastern financial hubs (via personal couriers, no less) and of course they do not use own names, only amateurs do, they create shell companies and those have accounts.

gergely
Guest
As someone already mentioned here, Paks II, specifically its cooling water needs, will necessitate *at least* one gigantic dam on the Danube. The dam already has a planned location at Fajsz which has long been the dream of the nuclear and the water management lobbies, the latter of which never gave up the Bős-Nagymaros dream which actually included further dams (eg. at Pilismarót, instead of Nagymaros given the changing plans, and at Fajsz). So to the 3,000-6,000 bn Paks project we can safely add 1-2-3 dams on the Danube each costing perhaps 1,000-2,000 bn and all of which will be loss making (given that Hungary is a plainland so there in not much drop on which electricity may be generated and the Nagymaros dam was never even intended to generate substantial electricity). Naturally, these projects are also about cement, concrete and the construction industry (equaling to Orban himself and Simicska). (Before people say that river dams, despite their environmental destruction, produce sustainable and renewable energy, I mention that dams often produce more (!) greenhouse gases than comparable sized coal powered plants do, especially in warmer regions as Hungary is now becoming. That is because in the lake behind the dam… Read more »
Andy -- Kaboom...
Guest
Tappancs, methinks if the trip really took place to Switzerland then you are very astute – theres no doubt in my mind that this could have been used as a possibility to set up separate transactional schemes etc. Lawyers and Private Banking Practices handle all kinds of financial set-ups there that are 100% independent of Swiss Banking as such. Obviously he could have met the appropriate lawyers chosen to handle the transactions in private safe-houses, arriving in disguise etc. This kind of ultrasecret activity is standard procedure for big-time VIPs and genuinely big moneys. It costs peanuts to arrange compared to the enormous moneys involved. And evidently this current mega-scheme needs to be completely separate from (any) previous affairs. As regards the choice of nuclear power vs. any other, for Hungary — judging by Orbán V.’s previous decisions and specifically in energy matters, this current step bodes VERY badly. His investments in oil ‘giant’ MOL using EU and IMF loaned funds originally intended for other purposes has proved to be a TOP-RANKING DISASTER. The shares he purchased have lost a large part of its initial value. Also the corruption used in the purchasing of the Croatian (National) oil company INA… Read more »
petofi
Guest

tappanch :
Please notice that Orban went to Switzerland just before signing the deal in Moscow.
Perhaps he checked on his Swiss bank account whether his personal cut had arrived from Moscow.

–psychiatrist/handler

petofi
Guest

Peter :
tappanch: word on the street is that Orban, Simicska and friends prefer to use Far-Eastern financial hubs (via personal couriers, no less) and of course they do not use own names, only amateurs do, they create shell companies and those have accounts.

–probably the quacker’s main role

petofi
Guest

–if Paks is coming, can Chernobyl be far behind?

gdfxx
Guest

gergely :
As someone already mentioned here, Paks II, specifically its cooling water needs, will necessitate *at least* one gigantic dam on the Danube.
(Before people say that river dams, despite their environmental destruction, produce sustainable and renewable energy, I mention that dams often produce more (!) greenhouse gases than comparable sized coal powered plants do, especially in warmer regions as Hungary is now becoming. That is because in the lake behind the dam rotting of accumulated organic material such as trees, leaves etc. takes place and thereby methane is produced in huge quantities which has several times more heat trapping capacity than that of carbon dioxide.)
Needless to say the environmental costs and consequences cannot even be estimated.

And then comes the sedimentation, which is the greatest problems with river dams.

http://www.internationalrivers.org/sedimentation-problems-with-dams

Ron
Guest

If this is true what you are saying regarding an additional Dam in the Danube, than the project will cost more than only money for many years to come. And this will effect Serbia and the rest of the countries after the dam.

OT: Just finished reading an article regarding the housing project for Foreign currency debtors started in 2011. It seems that as of December 31, 2013 the project was abundant by the government. They could only fill half of the houses of the project. Which we more or less expected ten in this blog. However, what is really worrying is the the budget was HUF 140,000 to HUF 160,000 per square meter. The actual price was HUF 500,000 per square meter.

Can you imagine what the extra costs would be for such enormous project, if they can not calculate the costs for such small project.

http://nol.hu/belfold/20140117-vege_az_ocs_ai_kiserletnek

Andy -- music to the ears.
Guest

As the bakshish may well be in percentage terms, it is also in the client’s interest to maximize the costs of the project… Booming Bonanza… Dance to the music…

Mr. Paul
Guest
Interesting article Eva, but the problem is much larger than this. The problem is not what the right wing journalists write in long, boring traditional newspaper articles. These are read by a few thousand people almost all of whom are already committed politically. The problem is what the Left said about each other only a few months ago. Facebook posts, ATV sayings, Népszabadság pieces. All places where left wing people get their information from. This is the problem, the festering wound that hurts a thousand times more than any right wing journalist can write. When Tibor Szanyi says “With a bolshevik billionare, it is impossible to build a normal future” – a comment that you also quoted in one of your earlier pieces, that is the problem. When he says about Gyurcsány: “I only have one idea, either Lipót, or Csillag” – one a notorious prison one an asylum for the mentally disturbed. And let’s not forget what prompted these outbursts from Szanyi. When Gyurcsány said “There were shady characthers with black briefcases… it is better if we do not know where MSZP’s money came from when I was chairman”. Or constant talks about the billions of black money surrounding… Read more »
Max
Guest

An important aspect of Hungary’s rapprochement with Russia is geoolitics Since the first half of the XIXth century, Russia has always played a crucial role in regional political developments.

In 1945, for example, it was Stalin who stopped the ethnic cleansing in Slovakia.

As the EU does not seem to support autonomy developments here, Russia may feel that her time has come.

And the region is again in flux:

http://www.balkaneu.com/romanias-basescu-calls-internal-debate-union-moldova/

Istvan
Guest

Yesterday Forbes ran a very positive article about investing in Hungary. Overall, there is no negative reaction among international investment funds in the USA to Hungary potentially creating excess energy capacity as several commentators have pointed out. I suspect that is because excess capacity could lead to lower commercial energy costs and allow for cheaper production.

Let’s recall that from a US investment perspective what ever conflicts Hungary has with the EU are not of much importance as long as it remains a port of entry to the Eurozone and continues to pay down its debt as required by the IMF. Unfortunately, Orban’s authoritarian policies can be over looked in order to make some money.

spectator
Guest

tappanch :
Please notice that Orban went to Switzerland just before signing the deal in Moscow.
Perhaps he checked on his Swiss bank account whether his personal cut had arrived from Moscow.

Something for sure, the payoffs after the Gripen deal were handled trough the Valurex in Genève. As we know they paid some 8M US$ to five Hungarian individuals, none of them remembers receiving a dime. Well, it was long ago.
Btw., if you search after Valurex, you’ll find interesting coincidences.
A small World we living in, no doubt.

Guest

A bit OT:

I was really surprised to learn about the German origins of this “vigéc” and at the same time this reminded me of our German history.

There just was an article in our local newspaper about one of our Schwab kings who allowed (around 160 years ago) the Jews to settle down anywhere and also perform any kind of profession – until that day they could only live in certain villages and work certain jobs, like a travelling salesman …

One of these villages near the town where I grew up is kind of famous – in 1933 already the village’s elders realised that horrible times were coming for them, so the whole village emigrated to Palestine! Those were the lucky ones …

tappanch
Guest

Szakály, the leader of the new historical institute Veritas, created by Orban’s chief of staff Lazar a few weeks ago, regards the 1941 deportation of about 18,000 Jews to their death as an

“immigrant handling procedure” (idegenrendészeti eljárás)

http://444.hu/2014/01/17/az-csak-egy-idegenrendeszeti-eljaras-volt-amikor-a-magyar-hatosagok-zsidokat-kuldtek-a-halalba/

HiBoM
Guest

@MrPaul, because you are using the term “Left” to describe anyone who might more accurately be called “not Fidesz”, you create the false implication that all these people share a common vision. They don’t which is why the coalition has taken so long and why it is now so unsatisfactory. TIbor Szanyi is virtually an old style communist whose views on economics have more in common with Orbán than people like Bokros or Tamás Bauer, who are themselves more “right wing” in economic matters than “left.” And how does a decent and principled environmentalist like Rebeka Szabó fit alongside a cynical and professional politician like Gyurcsány? In the end, they have cobbled something together but with Fodor at four on the list, FGy at 3, and Kuncze meandering around the hinterland, I can’t help feeling that this coalition has become a vehicle for getting certain exhausted figures (unable to give up their addiction to politics and the public eye) back into parliament rather than to present a coherent vision for good governance.

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