Jobbik and the Russian connection: The role of Béla Kovács

A few days ago I mentioned a possible connection between Jobbik (and other extremist parties in Europe as well) and Putin’s Russia. In that post I quoted a 2009 study from the Hungarian think tank, Political Capital. Considering the importance of the subject I would like to call attention to a new revised, up-t0-date study of Jobbik’s relationship with Russia by Political Capital. It can be read in English here. At that time I didn’t go into any details because, quite frankly, I wasn’t well versed in the matter. But this morning I discovered an English-language blog written by Anton Shekhovtsov. Yesterday he posted an article entitled “Fascist vultures of the Hungarian Jobbik and the Russian connection.” The title was intriguing and what followed were some details I hadn’t found in the Hungarian media. For example, a speech delivered by Jobbik EPM Tamás Gaudi-Nagy in a T-shirt with the following message: “Crimea legally belongs to Russia! Transcarpathia legally belongs to Hungary!” May I remind everybody that Gaudi-Nagy was the man who threw the flag of the European Union out of one of the windows of the Hungarian parliament. Here is Gaudi Nagy’s English-language speech with Hungarian subtitles.

There is widespread belief that Jobbik is being supported by Moscow, although we have no direct evidence of such financial support. One thing is sure. Jobbik has more money than the party could possibly collect from its Hungarian followers. Jobbik couldn’t have run the extensive campaign it did on the meager subsidies the government hands out to the parties. Besides Russia, Iran has also been mentioned as a possible source of revenue.

In any case, Shekhovtsov suggests that Gábor Vona, the party’s chairman, was invited to Russia by Aleksandr Dugin, a professor at Moscow State University “who is known for his proximity to fascism.” He seems to be a political eclectic. He is, for instance, one of the most popular advocates of the creation of a Eurasian empire. And he helped write the program for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

Vona had an opportunity while in the Russian capital to deliver a lecture entitled “Russia and Europe.” In this speech Vona called the European Union a “treacherous organization” and declared that it would be better for Hungary to join the Russia-dominated Eurasian Union should the occasion arise.

While in Russia, according to ATV, Vona also had a meeting with Ivan Grachov, chairman of the Russian Duma’s commission on energy, and Leonid Kalashnikov, deputy chairman of the Duma’s committee on international affairs. Kalashnikov is a member of the top leadership of the Russian communist party.

Gábor Vona, Ivan Grachov, and Béla Kovács in Moscow in May 2013 / Photo: Facebook

Gábor Vona, Ivan Grachov, and Béla Kovács in Moscow in May 2013 / Photo: Facebook

The plot only thickens with the entrance of Béla Kovács, a man about whom we know very little but enough for some people to suspect that he is a Russian agent.  He was born in Budapest, but after finishing high school he moved with his parents to Japan, sometime in the late 1970s. His father was apparently employed by the Hungarian Embassy in Tokyo. It is possible that he also spent four years at “one of the private universities” in the United States, but he graduated from the Institute of International Relations, known for its close ties to the KGB. In addition to Hungarian, Kovács speaks Russian, English, French, German, Japanese, and Polish.

He returned to Hungary in 1986 but in 1988 went back to Moscow where he apparently worked for several Russian companies involved in international trade. We don’t know why, but in 2003 he again returned to Hungary, where he established a small salad bar which failed. In 2005 he discovered Jobbik, whose “bright enthusiastic young men” changed his life. Soon enough he became a very important man in the party. He handles the party’s finances, and in 2010 he was chosen to represent Jobbik in Brussels. There he is considered to be a Russian lobbyist.

Kovács is a man of the world and seems to have  connections with leading members of far right parties all over Europe and the United Kingdom. As his Jobbik colleagues said, without him they wouldn’t have been able to find their bearings in Brussels so easily. It was his idea to create the Alliance of European National Movements, which includes all important far-right parties.

He was one of the representatives of extremist parties whom Russia invited “to monitor” the Crimean referendum last month. Most of the overseers came from right radical circles, although there were a few from the far left parties of Finland, Germany, and Greece.

I discovered an article about Kovács on the website of the new neo-Nazi party, Magyar Hajnal (Hungarian Dawn). It claims that in 2010 he was penniless but a couple of years later he managed to live lavishly, a fact that was confirmed by other sources. According to József Gulyás, a former member of the parliamentary committee on national security, Kovács’s background and activities are “entirely impenetrable.”  Mind you, Gulyás is convinced that Jobbik “is a phony nationalist party which serves only Russian interests.”

I assume that, given his background, the Hungarian national security office is keeping an eye on Kovács. Given their poor performance in the past, however, I have the feeling they know no more about Kovács than anyone can discover by diligently searching the Internet for clues.

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lavotha
Guest

I recomend a documentary: Putin, Russia And The West – Democracy Threatens

Istvan
Guest

Being aligned with Russia in the current context is equal to being a traitor to the Hungarian nation. There is no way Russia would allow Transcarpathia to be part of Hungary if they had territorial control over the area. Stalin had his chance and he chose totally to support great Russian chauvinism in 1944, I have job doubt Putin would do the same. The NKVD interned thousands of Hungarian civilians in1944 hundreds and hundreds died.

Is the criminal in all of this Communism or is it historic great Russian chauvinism that Stalin promoted and that Putin is currently promoting. I think the latter.

Jano
Guest

Just for the record, Index reported on Gaudi’s speech. On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem believing all this, I think I first heard that Jobbik was financed from Moscow together with other far-right organizations in several Eastern European countries. It made as perfect sense back then as it does today. Russia’s main enemy is the EU over its sphere of influence and they correctly identified its weak point: new member state citizens’ lack of commitment to the idea. (I’m sure they wouldn’t mind inciting in older member states, but it’s outside of the ex-Soviet influence region so it’s both harder and less important for Putin)

What I don’t understand is how the left (or Fidesz if that matters) use this as a nuclear option against them. I’m sure the secret service collected enough under both the Gyurcsány and Orbán regime. Is everybody bought up by the Russians?

Minsky
Guest

Since all Hungarian security branches are full of Jobbik sympathizers, objective review of Jobbik will not be easy, but probably they are just too amateurs to figure this out as it involves the Russians, who are pros.

Carlito
Guest
@ Jano the Hungarian left is a deeply conformist bunch at every level. It is unable to act at its own initiative in any matter. Its – obviously fidesz-leaning – connections at the security services would ask those politicians not to raise such issues openly, arguing “mixing politics and national security is not good”, “let the pros handle this”. So that left collectively abides and does nothing. I would even think that the lefties would be very grateful if anybody from the security services still talked to them (I mean off-the record) as that would indicate to the lefties that they are still factors, with whom a security agency decides to have a communication, when in fact everybody knows that that left is not a factor, and especially not in the security branches which are by now full of fideszniks and jobbikniks, which is only natural because the younger generations (of whom people entered the services in the last decades) in general hate lefties and liberals. Of course nothing will happen, because the Hungarians have no ability to work against the best agents in the world (the Russians) and they do not want to either, as it would involve too… Read more »
Dávid
Guest
The most basic rule of politics is that all will fight and go against the current losers. Ridiculing the loser is a fundamental ritual of any group behavior, I guess it exists in any kind of animal pack, the wounded wolf who fought to be the alpha male and lost needs to leave the pack and die alone. Since this is loser is the left-wing right now, everybody from Schiffer to Jobbik to Fidesz to the media itself (granted most of it is controlled by Fidesz) will go against the left, liberals and ridicule them. It’s quite self-fulfilling, but people just love public auto da fes, this is human, it’s great fun. Projecting power is important because it assures supporters that they will be protected and they are not alone and not some freaks. That the left unable to do, so rural voters will very soon disappear and urban ones will just get even more lethargic. Meanwhile the Fidesz voters have been in a state of extacsy since 2002 and ready to roll at a moment’s notice. I think the next polls will be a disaster for the left. And the best thing: the left will still be the “enemy… Read more »
xxx felszabadulas
Guest

Ridiculous nation.
How many times can people experience the partial liberation and partial self-liberation?
But never all of us.
When is the next one?
When will be all Houngarians free?

nemdedenem
Guest

The need for belonging of the rural Jobbik voters or the supporters of CÖF (the Orban-supporting ‘civil’ peach march organisation) is exactly the same as the need for belonging of those Holocaust-survivors who ardently supported communism after 1945. Only the trauma for the Hungarian right wingers is different: the Hungarian capitalism and its consequences on them and on their identities.

Member

Professor Kim Lane Scheppele has written another rigorous, timely analysis of Fidesz foul play: Fidesz may have won by a plurality (although the media and legal manipulations make even that uncertain too) but the super-majority all depends on further systematic dirty-tricks that are now being recognized worldwide. Orban and his cronies can try to ignore the overwhelming evidence of foul play, but they cannot conceal them:
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/legal-but-not-fair-hungary/

(I hope Professor Balogh will reproduce Professor Scheppele’s analysis in Hungarian Spectrum.)

Member

nemdedenem :
The need for belonging of the rural Jobbik voters or the supporters of CÖF (the Orban-supporting ‘civil’ peach march organisation) is exactly the same as the need for belonging of those Holocaust-survivors who ardently supported communism after 1945. Only the trauma for the Hungarian right wingers is different: the Hungarian capitalism and its consequences on them and on their identities.

This has to be one of the most psychopathic pronouncements I’ve seen in HS comments to date. No point saying the poster should be ashamed; psychopaths have no shame…

Member

nemdedenem :
The need for belonging of the rural Jobbik voters or the supporters of CÖF (the Orban-supporting ‘civil’ peach march organisation) is exactly the same as the need for belonging of those Holocaust-survivors who ardently supported communism after 1945. Only the trauma for the Hungarian right wingers is different: the Hungarian capitalism and its consequences on them and on their identities.

This has to be one of the most psychopathic pronouncements I’ve seen in HS comments to date. No point saying the poster should be ashamed; psychopaths have no shame…

The very same amoral relativism that’s behind the travesty planned for Hero’s Square by the traumatized patriots…

LwwiH
Guest

Stevan Harnad :
Professor Kim Lane Scheppele has written another rigorous, timely analysis of Fidesz foul play:

In my humble opinion the effects of control of the media has been greatly under estimated. With a free press and proper access to media I fear the other parties would have done better.

Har not
Guest
Does anyone know whether Harnad contributed anything of value to this community? As far as I’ve seen his only contributions are links to stuff other people write, and extreme trolling, brutal personal attacks and smears. Let’s take the above example: Harnad wrote: “This has to be one of the most psychopathic pronouncements I’ve seen in HS comments to date. No point saying the poster should be ashamed; psychopaths have no shame…” A civilized person would have written: “I find such comparisons between everyday trivialities and the Holocaust offensive. Even if it wasn’t the intention of them these comments can be misconstrued into belittling the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust, and I ask the moderator to remove them” I remember he also attacked Seal Driver who wrote a well thought out, 500 word almost perfect description of the situation at the time. The kind that any online discussion should be proud to have, real effort was put in. But Harnad found half a sentence he didn’t like and he attacked Seal Driver in an extremely brutal way. I haven’t seen him comment too much ever since. I have also seen Harnad post links about his wars from early 2011… Read more »
Apostol
Guest

“Jobbik couldn’t have run the extensive campaign it did on the meager subsidies the government hands out to the parties. Besides Russia, Iran has also been mentioned as a possible source of revenue.”

What are the regulations in Hungary about political parties declaring sources of income, or limits on contributions? Are there any, or is it ultimately impossible to trace finances?

nemdedenem
Guest
Sorry, I tried to be a bit provocative, but I don’t consider myself a psychopath. I am not Jewish, but I am most definitely not a Fidesz/Jobbik lover either. Any such provocation can have two results: immediate rejection (branding it as outrageous) or in a smaller number of cases perhaps a deeper analysis. I don’t want to trivialize the Holocaust in any way or the responsibility of fellow Hungarians or the Hungarian political leadership. But political correctness may prevent us from getting to the bottom of things. Jobbik voters, many with their hatred of the Roma/Jews are clear losers of capitalism and its relentless demands on the individuals. I have yet to meet any bourgeois Jobbik supporter, middle-class supporter, yes, but not remotely any winners of the economic system. Moreover, most rural voters have been losing their identities. Whereas previously it was clear to them who these people were (e.g. according to their profession, employer, position within the family, place of living, education), now the situation is blurry and is in flux and this is why they are actively looking for communities and identity-establishing sub-cultures. At last they can be part of something, of a community and which belonging in… Read more »
Member
A Fidesz troll using the false name “Har not” wrote: Does anyone know whether Harnad contributed anything of value to this community? As far as I’ve seen his only contributions are links to stuff other people write, and extreme trolling, brutal personal attacks and smears. Let’s take the above example: Harnad wrote: “This has to be one of the most psychopathic pronouncements I’ve seen in HS comments to date. No point saying the poster should be ashamed; psychopaths have no shame…” A civilized person would have written: “I find such comparisons between everyday trivialities and the Holocaust offensive. Even if it wasn’t the intention of them these comments can be misconstrued into belittling the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust, and I ask the moderator to remove them” I remember he also attacked Seal Driver who wrote a well thought out, 500 word almost perfect description of the situation at the time. The kind that any online discussion should be proud to have, real effort was put in. But Harnad found half a sentence he didn’t like and he attacked Seal Driver in an extremely brutal way. I haven’t seen him comment too much ever since. I have also… Read more »
Member

An anonymous Fidesz troll using the false name ”Har not” asked:
How much longer must we suffer..?

Post something of substance under your real identity and you will be treated with all the courtesy due to a real person.

Member

nemdedenem :
The need for belonging of the rural Jobbik voters or the supporters of CÖF (the Orban-supporting ‘civil’ peach march organisation) is exactly the same as the need for belonging of those Holocaust-survivors who ardently supported communism after 1945. Only the trauma for the Hungarian right wingers is different: the Hungarian capitalism and its consequences on them and on their identities.

I think you need to see a psychologist very fast or in a better case, learn some more history, not from Orban and from Jobbik but from independent books about Hungarian history that reviews the first half on the 20th Century. Good luck!

kommentelo
Guest

Though “Har not” was far from being coherent (what does editing Wikipedia has to do with anything?), he or she does raise a valid point. Can anyone point to a comment by Stevan Harnad that added new information about Hungarian politics? On topic information which was relevant to the blogpost where it was posted?

It is clear that Jobbik’s strong showing rases the question of Russian assistance. Especially considering that Jobbik reached those results without owning any media whatsoever, they don’t even have a daily newspaper like Nepszabadsag, have no TVs, and no radios. In fact many media companies like ATV have a policy of banning towards Jobbik. They really must have used a lot of other means to be able to reach people at all, which do not cme cheap. As eastern Ukraine heats up, Russians will need supporters in many EU countries to be able to avoid sanctions. It is possible that they are buying support in advance for the time they attack east-Ukrain.

Member

nemdedenem :
Sorry, I tried to be a bit provocative, but I don’t consider myself a psychopath. I am not Jewish, but I am most definitely not a Fidesz/Jobbik lover either. Any such provocation can have two results: immediate rejection (branding it as outrageous) or in a smaller number of cases perhaps a deeper analysis.

Indeed it is provocative. Maybe you are not supporter of Fidesz/Jobbik but lack the understanding of why so many Jews, yes, in fact did become members of the communist party. Just a starter, the communist did offer protection for the Jews, an it was the Soviet army that brought freedom for the Jews. It was not the Hungarians or the Germans or the capitalists, it was the Soviets who freed Hungary. If the Hungarian Jews would lived in France for example the outcome could of been different (having said that the underground did the many of the cleanings there too). So when you say Jews empathized with the tormentors, you are wrong. In that scenario, the outcome should of been that they defend that Hungarian Arrow Cross or would of lobbied for Csatary’s freedom. None of that happened.

nemdedenem
Guest
Some1 : nemdedenem : Sorry, I tried to be a bit provocative, but I don’t consider myself a psychopath. I am not Jewish, but I am most definitely not a Fidesz/Jobbik lover either. Any such provocation can have two results: immediate rejection (branding it as outrageous) or in a smaller number of cases perhaps a deeper analysis. Indeed it is provocative. Maybe you are not supporter of Fidesz/Jobbik but lack the understanding of why so many Jews, yes, in fact did become members of the communist party. Just a starter, the communist did offer protection for the Jews, an it was the Soviet army that brought freedom for the Jews. It was not the Hungarians or the Germans or the capitalists, it was the Soviets who freed Hungary. If the Hungarian Jews would lived in France for example the outcome could of been different (having said that the underground did the many of the cleanings there too). So when you say Jews empathized with the tormentors, you are wrong. In that scenario, the outcome should of been that they defend that Hungarian Arrow Cross or would of lobbied for Csatary’s freedom. None of that happened. Please do not let the… Read more »
Member
nemdedenem : Please do not let the details mislead you. What I am saying is that there was an obvious identity crisis for the already mostly assimilated Jewish Hungarians who were rejected as Hungarians as well as there is now – for different reasons entirely – for a lot of Hungarians supporting Jobbik and Fidesz. Identity (whether religious, ethnic, professional, urban vs. rural, aka vidéki etc.) is a key issue for the individual and the questioning of it will induce a seeking of a new, firmer identity(ies) and a more accepting community. Right now, for various reasons, the left cannot provide a community or an identity for those seeking those, the right wing can. I think this is exactly what you should of said. I agree with you on that. There were many Jews who “left” the faith, many who’s faith actually strengthened by the experience, but in all cases it had something to do with God. If there is one, how can he let this happen? There is one, and he pushed our faith. Some carried on as a deep respect to those who perished, so their faith would not perish, the evil would not reap the reward. Still… Read more »
Member

”nemdedenem” :

Some1 :

An anonymous Jobbik apologist posting under the false name of ”nemdedenem” wrote:
”What I am saying is that there was an obvious identity crisis for the already mostly assimilated Jewish Hungarians who were rejected as Hungarians as well as there is now – for different reasons entirely – for a lot of Hungarians supporting Jobbik and Fidesz.

And what ”nemdedenem” is missing — whoever he or she or they might be — is the obvious: The crisis for the Hungarian Jews was not a loss of “identity” but the loss of the lives of their families and friends, and the imminent danger of losing their own.

Relativization of such facts is odious, indeed psychopathic, as I stated it. ”nemdedenem” replied ”I don’t consider myself a psychopath.”

No psychopath ever does.

Jano
Guest

kommentelo: Good point, but there is an easy way to defend against this: just don’t read what Harnad writes. I certainly almost always skip them and my HS experience is immediately much better due to reasons ‘Har not’ and you talked about. Nemdedenem explained his position, and it’s perfectly acceptable despite the initially unfortunate presentation.

tappanch
Guest

Orban continues to build the Nazi memorial, in spite of the protests. There is increasing police harassment against the protesters.

http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20140414-video-a-szabadsag-terrol-egy-szamtanu-mar-latta-gabrielt

En Ulv i Skogen
Guest

Sorry, Jobbik is no more “Extremist” than the UKIP, I would class them as the mid way, not the little Pupply of FIDESZ or Gyurcsány’s lost sheep, the 6th April was a farce, and essentially Vona Gábor showed exactly what Europe should be, and the WJC can bleat all it wants regarding “Neo-Nazis” that is just a buzzword to have an excuse to subjugate free speech, nothing more, and this has been going on for decades, the right wing is the only way now to stop the rot of the “baby boomer” generation and the farce that happened after WW2.

petofi
Guest

@Trolls afflicting Steven Harnad

“How much longer must we suffer at the hands of people like Harnad as a community, lowering our standards?”

Now this is advanced troll-dom: trying to get the community to reject one of it’s most vociferous, and effective spokesperson. Nice try.

I guess they’ve called in the heavier hitters to attack this blog. Good luck. Most people on this blog decide for themselves rather than have some aggressive, threatening, no-name do it for them.

petofi
Guest

At some point, Hungarians will have to appreciate the fact that there’s a lot more presence, and influence, of Russians in Hungary than they have ever considered…

Guest

kommentelo: ” Can anyone point to a comment by Stevan Harnad that added new information about Hungarian politics? On topic information which was relevant to the blogpost where it was posted?”

As discussions among commenters drag on they usually end up in pointless bickering. The participants in such discussions may get annoyed when their skirmishes are ignored by other commenters, and they sometimes express their annoyance. In my opinion there are very few real OT comments in HS. Most comments labelled OT are within the general scope of HS and they usually add something to the picture. I appreciate the so called OT comments just as much as the initial comments of long winding discussions and I do not distinguish between original contributions and comments that just draw attention to some relevant matter. If the comment column of HS was monopolised by the OT sensitive people it would be boring and much less informative

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