The Orbán government presses on

Some stories simply refuse to die. Although I have spent more time than usual on the corruption case involving the Hungarian tax authority (NAV), the American corporation Bunge (the complainant), and a Fidesz-established foundation called Századvég, which one of its former associates called a front for money laundering, I think I ought to say a few more words about the latest developments.

Today a new list of possible subjects of the U.S. ban was published by NépszabadságIn addition to Ildikó Vida, chair of NAV, three deputy chairpersons are on the list. All three are women: Mrs. Dezső Csillag, Marianna Dávida, and Katalin Somos. The fifth person is most likely Péter Heim, president of Századvég. The sixth person’s identity is still not known, but he is presumed to be an influential businessman. Right after the news broke about the American decision to ban six Hungarians from entering the United States, “an unnamed businessman” rushed to ATV to share the bad news he received from the U.S. embassy. Although hypothetical lists appeared earlier, none of them sounded plausible to me. This one rings true. Now we just have to find out who the influential businessman is.

The opposition parties keep demanding Ildikó Vida’s resignation, and there has been talk about organizing demonstrations to the same end. In my opinion, such demonstrations would be a waste of time and effort. Fidesz functionaries don’t resign under pressure from the opposition. Moreover, most likely Viktor Orbán doesn’t want her to depart right now because that would be a sign of weakness when he just decided to tough it out. At the moment he might be very angry at her for revealing that she told the government about the U.S. decision, but he needs her to keep the tax office working to enrich Fidesz.

I might add here that I’m becoming more and more convinced that APEH/NAV was an instrument of Fidesz’s money collecting scheme even between 2002 and 2010 when the party was in opposition. Of course, since then the financial opportunities have become much greater. Now not only pressure on businesses yields kickbacks but also huge amounts of public money from government sources land at Századvég and from there go God knows where. The Eötvös Károly Intézet, a legal think tank, wanted to review the “studies” ordered by the Ministry of National Development from Századvég. Unfortunately, they were unable to get hold of the studies, but they managed to learn the exact amount of money Századvég received from the ministry between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. According to the information, the ministry paid out 939,632,750 Ft. and still owed 5,936,845 Ft. Given the personnel and the capacity of Századvég, EKInt figured that the ministry paid 470,000 Ft. (almost $1900) per page for studies ordered by the ministry. Századvég’s answer was that they also provided other kinds of services to the ministry. Of course.

"Good morning my sunshine!" Source: veranus.blog.hu

“Good morning my sunshine!”
Source: veranus.blog.hu

It is equally useless for the opposition to turn to the chief prosecutor for remedies as two Együtt-PM members of parliament tried to do today. They were politely called in for a personal meeting with Péter Polt, who explained to them that his office cannot do a thing as long as they don’t know the exact charges. He wrote a letter to the U.S. attorney general and, if he reveals the details, they will certainly act. Of course, Polt knows perfectly well that the U.S. attorney general can’t release the details. So, that argument is pretty safe. Polt also reassured them that investigations have been going on for some time at NAV and that Ildikó Vida is in no way involved with the cases under investigation. So, this is yet another dead end.

Corruption may not move massive crowds, but internet users may yet have reason to take to the streets. If my reading of the bits and pieces of information that are being released about internet usage is correct, something might be in the offing that is much worse than a steep usage tax. I read with some suspicion that László L. Simon, undersecretary in charge of culture, would like “to improve” the quality of the internet. He also drew attention to the dangers lurking online and called on young people to leave cyberspace and join real-world groups. The fact that Tamás Deutsch is still entrusted with a “national consultation” on the issue of the internet also points in that direction.

Besides the internet, potential protesters should keep an eye on the the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP)’s harebrained idea to close larger chains on Sundays. I’m hoping that the government will not fall for this proposal because of its adverse economic consequences, but anything is possible from this crew. I bet a lot of people would gather for a demonstration against closing the plazas and the malls on Sundays.

Another suggestion to keep pressure on the government is a large demonstration against closing half of the gymnasiums and forcing students into inferior trade schools. Parents, students, and teachers would make a hefty crowd.

There are no governmental checks to Orbán’s drive to create a national illiberal democracy where freedoms are being compromised and increasing numbers of people are living in poverty. Parliament is under firm Fidesz control, and the constitutional court has been packed with Fidesz judges. Only the people can speak against this regime, but they must pick their causes wisely for maximum effectiveness.

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Joe Simon
Guest

It seems the Hungarian Spectrum has very little influence on Hungarian or American politics. In Hungary Eva’s nemesis Viktor is riding high, in the USA the Republicans are in. The Jobbik must be celebrating.

lanmertic
Guest
One has to note that both in 2002 and in 2006 Fidesz lost the elections by small percentages and its supporters (as they are now, still) were ready to do anything to support Fidesz and this gave Orban a huge power and influence even from opposition. First, we know that MSZP (Laszlo Puch et al) did made deals with Fidesz and let Fidesz have their fat cuts. But more importantly, from 2006 on when it became crystal clear after the Öszöd speech, the necessary economic restrictions and the burning down of the TV HQ and the resulting mayhem that Fidesz was gonna win big time (it anyway lost by a few votes but now it had the upper hand) MSZPniks became increasingly wobbly and open to deals with Fidesz, especially at lower levels. By 2006, Fidesz also had a solid majority at the all-important constitutional court which was given up by MSZP when Pal Vastagh in 2004 agreed with Otto Czucz (a very reliable leftist vote) that Czucz may leave for Luxemburg. Interestingly, Czucz was renominated by Fidesz in 2010 where he still serves at the first instance. This leave rather quickly upset the shaky balance and lead to a… Read more »
Gyula
Guest

Joe Simon:

Jobbik is a staunch supporter of Russia and Putin, and it hates American assertiveness (and Americans in general, as represented by “jews”, global corporations etc.), Why would jobbikniks be so happy now that big business and big guns will be more influential in DC and when the US is investigating Mr. Timchenko, a close friend and front for Mr. Putin?

riposzt
Guest

“One has to note that both in 2002 and in 2006 Fidesz lost the elections by small percentages and its supporters (as they are now, still) were ready to do anything to support Fidesz and this gave Orban a huge power and influence even from opposition. ”

Yes this is how it should be in any democracy. When Fidesz had massive support even in opposition it had power and influence. You can not expect the same power or influence from Egyutt or DK which are very small parties with around 5% support at best. Everyone knows that even if the opposition wins in 2018 MSZP will be the leading force and not the other small parties. This is why today MSZP is the most important and powerful opposition party.

petofi
Guest

@ Joe Simon

You’re such a card, and a surreptitious Orban-nik, we know. Care to twist things a little more
and tell us exactly how a Republican controlled government is good for Hungary? Of course,
typical of Orbanchiks, what you can’t change you’ll mis-represent, right?

Fact is, the Republicans will have no patience whatever with Hungary and will kick major ass.
You can bet on it.

Member
A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES’ CORRUPT PRIME MINISTERS Just for once, let’s state the obvious: It is very likely that the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, not only knew everything about the US corruption charges — knew who were the accused, knew what they were accused of, knew what they actually did, and knew the evidence the US had against them, but, by far the most important of all, it is also very likely that the accused had been doing it with an explicit or implicit nod from Orban all along. Now here is the difference between Hungary’s current government and governments in other countries: Other countries have corrupt politicians too, all the way up to the prime minister. Canada is a star example, with two criminal prime ministers who were up to their ears in corruption not long ago: Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien. Now, although both corrupt Canadian prime ministers had their day in court, both beat the charges against them. So things are not all that well with the Canadian judicial system. But here’s the big difference: if their respective charges of corruption had been brought out while they were in office as prime minister, they… Read more »
Jammie
Guest

The star of Orban is shining less and less bright.
Many Hungarians can be deceived by Orban’s fake anti-communism, while he is courting the current Russian leaders.
I am also happy that Americans are ready to dump Obama, and I hope that nobody wants to embrace another Clinton.
I prefer to take another Bush.

appled
Guest

Personally I think the SZDSZ (now defunct party in Hungary) was unbeatable in corruption.

In 2004, Peter Medgyessy the then Socialist Prime Minister said: “SZDSZ is just full of corruption”. And boy was he right. The problem with the SZDSZ style corruption was they were stealing 100 units from Hungarians and giving it to foreign firms to get 1 units of corruption money. So the main problem was not the SZDSZ corruption the problem was the 99 units they stole from Hungarians and gave to foreigners.

And I think this is the main problem for me to believe that Goodfriend is not lying. I believe firmly that Goodfriend is definitely lying when he is saying the issue here is corruption. We all know I think maybe even personally politicians who were corrupt in the 2002-2010 MSZP-SZDSZ era and they were not barred from entering the United States, not a single one of them.
This 100% proves that the issue is not with corruption it is something else. What that is, I don’t know. But either all corrupt politicians including SZDSZ are banned and then we can say it is corruption based or there is something else, something more to this case.

Almássy
Guest
appled, sorry, but you’re an idiot. SZDSZ wanted to privatize companies, if I remember it correctly. In such case, you can get a kickback once, when you sell it, then it’s over. If, however, you own the company, as Orban now owns MOL, assorted other energy companies, Antenna Hungaria, water companies etc. then you have an unlimited cookie jar. Now which strategy is more suitable for corruption? How could a party of 5-6% anyway be so corrupt when they contributed a 20th of all government people? And why – as a fidesznik, jobbiknik – would you believe a statement of a former SZT officer (professional secret service officer, codename D-209) Socialist prime minister Medgyessy so much? Oops, he was your colleague, wasn’t he? But lastly, what I don’t get is why do trolls think in 2014 that mentioning SZDSZ (which has been defunct for years) has any relevance? [For foreign readers: SZDSZ is a code for “jews” and “liberals”] Do you seriously think that Hungarian Spectrum readers will think, hey there was once a 5% party which has been defunct for 7 years, so Fidesz is allowed to have a mafia government? Do you think what works on braindead Peace… Read more »
D7 Democrat
Guest
Did corruption arrive in Hungary with the Orban regime in 2010? Of course not. In my western naivety I am still shocked sometimes how much it is accepted in a matter of fact at every levels of society; doctors are bribed to stop them removing the wrong body part and people talk matter of factly at dinner parties about the way they can cheat NAV. Long-distance busdrivers will charge you less for the journey as long as you don’t ask for a ticket. Until that mindset changes then Hungary will never achieve its full potential. But the difference post 2010 is the fact that the Orban Mafia Regime is fully and 100% corrupt at all levels, from the lowest NAV inspector tight up to The Godfather himself.Whereas before it was a (admittedly substantial) side-effect of the weakness and inefficiency of the state now it is the state itself which is 100% rotten at the core. “But either all corrupt politicians including SZDSZ are banned and then we can say it is corruption based or there is something else, something more to this case” Maybe they were and they kept quiet about it. The US still hasn’t disclosed who the most… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Here, in the US, the movies are full of movies about zombies. “Wow”, I thought, “that’s just like
Hungary”.

Except in Hungary, the country is not only full of zombies–they’re corrupt zombies.

tappanch
Guest

Was November 5, 2014 the day of long bytes?

(It was a weekend in early November 1998 and possibly another one earlier in August, when the new chairman of the Tax Authority [called APEH then] Simicska (deputy: Vida) allegedly destroyed evidence implicating Fidesz leaders.)

In the morning, the admission interview with Ms Vida, the head of NAV (Hungarian IRS) was published.

In the afternoon, all of the employees were suddenly forced to leave the NAV headquarters in the midst of their work.

http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_aktualis/rejtelyes-kiurites-a-nav-kozpontjaban-2301889

tappanch
Guest

Another mysterious death:

Milan Rozsa, 26, who was one of the activists at the October 26 rally against the internet tax in front of the Fidesz headquarters, and who was detained by police for days,
died yesterday.

A train ran over him. One of his friends thinks that it was “presumably” a suicide.
Was it?

http://444.hu/2014/11/07/baratai-szerint-ongyilkos-lett-rozsa-milan/

Unexplained deaths in the last year:

1. Andras Komaromi, owner of EMIR, the software that kept tab on the EU tenders.
This is now in Fidesz hands, or can Komaromi’s underage children lay claim to the software?

2. Tamas Welsz, the key figure to refute the pre-election Fidesz charges against the vice president
of the opposition party MSzP.

3. Andras Varady, shepherd, who opposed Orban’s buddy and son-in-law in Alcsut.
He died on the eve of the local election.

Joe Simon
Guest

@Gyula
@petofi

Canadians thinks Obma is a decent man, a democrat. Now there is a massive shift to the right in US politics. Eva should have her Canadian passport ready, as her supposedly fierce liberal views might get her into trouble.

tappanch
Guest

@Joe Simon

As opposed to Hungary, the US is a democracy.

In the US, you would get into trouble for threatening Eva.

Dass
Guest

@tappanch

You bet. Word is Fideszniks have been destroying evidence.

And remember that Mr. Simicska doesn’t use email or mobile. He talk only to his few well-chosen underlings, always in person.

There is no way any fidesznik would go to jail – ever. And like it was said the pardon/amnesty option is always available.

These guys have been preparing for these for years. Now it’s too late.

tappanch
Guest
KTP
Guest
“2. Tamas Welsz, the key figure to refute the pre-election Fidesz charges against the vice president of the opposition party MSzP.” Alternate reality? Tamas Welsz was key witness against MSZP and a key witness against Gabor Simon the vice deputy of MSZP at the time who had several million undeclared dollars in accounts opened in five different foreign cities starting from 2008 (the time of the MSZP-SZDSZ government). Tamas Welsz cooperated with police fully and provided massive amounts of documents and testimony against the MSZP leader Gabor Simon. He even provided the fake passport from Bissau-Guinea, used by Gabor Simon who used an African fake name to open up some of the accounts. And he told the police about it and provided other evidence against Simon too. So after providing evidence against the MSZP vice president in what alternate universe is he a “key figure to refute”. He was a key witness against MSZP vice-chairman who had every reason to want him disappeared. And the whole point of all the secret accounts with the MSZP black money is that it was most likely not Gabor Simon’s money. But more likely it was the slush fund of the MSZP party (to… Read more »
Ati
Guest

“Nas cselovek v Budapeste” that is “Our man in Budapest”

That’s what the Russians think in Vedomosti about Orban Viktor.

Good to know, even the Russians say Orban is a Russian puppet. Orban is selling Hungary to Russia. What is this if not treason?

http://www.portfolio.hu/vallalatok/energia/az_oroszok_szerint_orban_az_o_emberuk.5.206132.html

Guest

@KTP:

What about the trial of Gabor Simon?

It’s been suspiciously quiet – nothing to be heard, just like other proceedings that were started by Fidesz authorities where nothing came out of it …

Member

Ceterum censeo KTP esse eiectum

Sindelar, Daisy (2014) The Kremlin’s Troll Army. The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/the-kremlins-troll-army/375932/

Druker, Jeremy; Caloianu, Ioana; Boissevain, Joshua (2012) The Kremlin’s Pay-a-Blogger Program Central and Eastern Online Library CEEOL http://j.mp/kremtrol

Walker, C., & Orttung, R. (2014). Media: Russia’s Media Imperialism. Transitions Online, (06/24)

Treverton, G. F., & Miles, R. (2014). Social Media and Intelligence. http://www.fhs.se/documents/Externwebben/forskning/centrumbildningar/CATS/publikationer/Social%20Media%20and%20Intelligence.pdf

Günther
Guest

Among Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS there’s our own Jobbik.

http://www.counterextremism.com/threat/jobbik

Unfortunately, fighting Jobbik just as an extremist, pro-Russia entity is idiotic (and unfortunately quite American) without looking at the causes which gave rise to the real and grass roots support behind Jobbik.

Unfortunately this lack of understanding is probably there too when it comes to Boko Haram et al.

Extremists don’t just grow on trees, there’s always a reason why they become extremists.

Putting some anti terrorism spooks behind these efforts will lead nowhere, I’m afraid.

KTP
Guest
Stephan Harnad the crazy troll should be banned. He often reacts aggressively to facts and tries to troll away intelligent debate. He had no answer to the fact that Tamas Welsz was key witness against MSZP and a key witness against Gabor Simon the vice deputy of MSZP at the time who had several million undeclared dollars in accounts opened in five different foreign cities starting from 2008 (the time of the MSZP-SZDSZ government). Harnad never replied to the fac that Tamas Welsz cooperated with police and provided documents and testimony against the MSZP leader Gabor Simon. Or that Tamas Welsz was a key witness against MSZP vice-chairman. Harnad never explained what could be the reason for all the secret accounts with the MSZP black money opened by Gabor Simon the MSZP vice chairman? What other reason could there be for these accoutns to be the slush fund of the MSZP party (to replace the safe they used earlier). @wolfi “What about the trial of Gabor Simon? It’s been suspiciously quiet – nothing to be heard, just like other proceedings that were started by Fidesz authorities where nothing came out of it …” You may not now but trials in… Read more »
MusicLover
Guest

Eva Balogh wrote: “I might add here that I’m becoming more and more convinced that APEH/NAV was an instrument of Fidesz’s money collecting scheme even between 2002 and 2010 when the party was in opposition”. Of course, that is how things worked in Hungary. Most corruption is not political, it is just out and out thievery. But to carry on with it, you need to get the politicians on your side. Some of whom have schemes of their own and most of whom are willing to get involved. So during the pre-2010 period, any major bribery / kick back scheme that involved APEH would have to include bribes or kick backs to the ruling parties (MSZP and SZDSZ) and those who might be ruling in the future (Fidesz). So they all benefited. What has changed is that because Fidesz is now unopposed, it can’t basically keep it all “in house”.

Guest

The latest news from the Kremlin:
President Vladimir V. Putin has revised his opinion of an important piece of Soviet history, calling the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that Moscow signed with Nazi Germany to divide up Eastern Europe not so bad.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/07/world/europe/russia-putin-defends-soviet-nazi-pact.html?_r=0

Guest

Re KTP – really a troll, nothing more:

All his accusations are only hearsay, nothing else right now!
And how convenient that the main witness dies after telling the police – what exactly?

And I heard from a reliable source that this summer he saw someone from Fidesz burn a whole pile of passports and other papers in his garden – that’s not a joke!

An
Guest

Eva, it was a delight to watch the interview with you on Budapest Beacon. Thanks for all the hard work you put into this blog!

big toe
Guest

Does anyone know if Andre Goodfriend ever commented on the case of the KGB trained Hungarian politician, Imre Horvath?

http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20141105-nemeth-szilard-szerint-biztonsagi-kockazatot-jelent-az-mszp-ujpesti-jeloltje

Mr. Horvath not only acknowledged being trained by the KGB, he reportedly said he was proud of his KGB training which was necessary at that time to “protect the homeland”. Horvath is not some third row politician, he is running in the upcoming election which will take place on the 23th of November. He said he will not withdraw from the race due to his KGB past even though opposition parties DK and Egyutt started distancing themselves from him, saying they will not support his candidacy.

Mr. Goodfriend comments almost every aspect of Hungarian life and it would be very surprising if he didn’t already condemn a “proud” former agent of the KGB. But so far I have seen no news reports of this.

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