Is the Hungarian far-right Jobbik party financed by Russia?

It’s amusing to watch an old piece of news reemerge and be heralded as an important discovery. This is exactly what happened a few days ago when the British conservative paper, The Telegraph, published an article with the title “Russia accused of clandestine funding of European parties as US conducts major review of Vladimir Putin’s strategy.”

Suspicions of Russian financial assistance to far-right parties in both Eastern and Western Europe are not new. For instance, ever since Jobbik surfaced as a substantial political force in Hungary, people have questioned the source of the party’s financing. How was it able to spend so lavishly on its 2010 political campaign?

Suspicions were further aroused when articles appeared in Index and elsewhere about Béla Kovács, a Jobbik member of the European Parliament, who was accused of spying for Russia. He is also thought to be the man through whom Russian financial contributions reached Jobbik. Those of you who are unfamiliar with Kovács’s shady activities should check out two of my posts about him, one from April and the other from May 2014. At that time the Hungarian chief prosecutor, Péter Polt, expressed his intention to start an investigation of the case, but for such an action to take place the European Parliament had to lift Kovács’s parliamentary immunity. The European Parliament took its sweet time but finally, more than a year and a half later, on October 15, 2015, the European Parliament acted. Since then Polt has been free to investigate and to question Kovács. To this day, however, nothing has happened.

In December 2014 newspapers were also full of stories about a €9.4 million loan from the First Czech-Russian bank in Moscow to the French National Front. Putin’s goal, it seemed evident, was “to undermine the European Union.” The Guardian called on Europe “to wake up to [Russia’s] insidious means of funding, or risk seeing its own institutions subverted.”

Even the U.S. decision to investigate the funding of far-right parties isn’t exactly new. It was on June 17, 2015 that the Senate authorized “appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the Unites States Government.” Among the long list of “duties” was an “assessment of funding of political parties and nongovernmental organizations by the Russian Federation … in [the] former Soviet states and countries in Europe” since January 1, 2006.

What is new, however, is that The Telegraph’s reporter had the opportunity to see a “dossier of Russian influence activity” which identified Russian operations running in France, the Netherlands, and Hungary as well as in Austria and the Czech Republic.

US Intelligence Community

The Telegraph article was naturally met with great interest in Hungary. Most of the articles simply summarized the story, but there were a few that went beyond Jobbik-Russian relations and focused on Putin’s designs on Europe. For example, Propeller published an article on the subject with the headline: “It is because of Putin that the American secret service is investigating us.” The article talks about Hungary as a “danger zone” of Putin’s designs.

Fidesz is delighted. The party doesn’t even mind that the so-often maligned U.S. intelligence service has extended its activities to the sovereign Hungarian state. According to Szilárd Németh, one of the newly elected vice-chairmen of the party, Gábor Vona, Jobbik’s chairman, “must avow the party’s relations with Russia not only to the people of Europe and of Hungary but also to the American authorities.” Suddenly Viktor Orbán and his party are worried about the future safety of Europe and even care what the “American authorities” think.

The government paper, Magyar Idők, has published two articles on the topic in two days, even though it is ideologically conflicted. On the one hand, the pro-government journalists working for the paper are delighted that Jobbik might be in trouble but, on the other hand, they don’t quite know how to handle the involvement of Putin’s Russia and the United States in such an investigation. Magyar Idők, just as its predecessor Magyar Nemzet, is pro-Russian and anti-American. It must be quite a challenge to combine joy over Jobbik’s troubles with an adoration of Russia and hatred of the United States. In the paper’s second article they solved the problem:

The widening of the Russian sphere of interest is obviously a thorn in the side of the United States and that’s why it is important for the American intelligence services to investigate the activities of the European parties with strong eastern ties. At the same time one ought to note that U.S. authorities haven’t moved a finger against kuruc.info, which uses a server operating from the United States. … It is not the radicalism of Jobbik that worries the leaders of the United States but the possibility of Russia’s European expansion.

May I add that the editors of kuruc.info, an openly anti-Semitic neo-Nazi site, write their articles in Hungary. The Hungarian authorities know full well who they are and could start proceedings against them at any time, but they choose not to.

How did Russia react to the news published in The Telegraph? Finian Cunningham, in a fairly lengthy article titled “Russian Red Scare No Longer Works” in Sputnik International, lashed out at the American and British governments, accusing them of a media campaign to demonize Russia. During the Cold War, “in the good old days,” they could control their public with scare stories about the “Red menace” or the “Evil Empire,” but these old formulas don’t work anymore. So now the U.S. and Great Britain are adopting different tactics. They are portraying Vladimir Putin “as a malign specter trying to break up European unity by funding political parties.” There is “not a scrap of evidence … to substantiate the story of alleged Russian conspiracy to destabilize European politics.” The problem is not Putin but the “massive numbers of ordinary citizens who have become disillusioned with the undemocratic monstrosity,” meaning the European Union.

But the real “problem is that the EU has shown no independence from Washington. The European governments under the harness of the American-led NATO military alliance have blindly joined the US in its disastrous, illegal wars for regime change.” It is clear that “Washington wants to isolate Russia for its own self-interest of displacing Russia as a major energy supplier to the continent. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.” Cunningham’s article didn’t forget about Poland either. According to him, “Europe’s pathetically servile deference to Washington’s economic and foreign policies is manifesting in forms of protest and dissent towards the entire EU project. The rise of Poland’s rightwing, nationalist ruling party is another sign of the times.” The similarities in style and content between Sputnik International and Magyar Idők are striking.

For the time being, Jobbik is facing the attacks with confidence. An English-language communiqué was issued by the party today:

Fidesz welcomes the news that the US Congress has instructed James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, to conduct an investigation into any Russian influence operations or funding of political parties in EU member states…. Jobbik requests the US authorities to reveal the findings of their investigation as soon as possible since the public has the right to know which political parties are funded by external powers. In the meantime, we request Russia to also disclose the findings of its own intelligence services regarding the potential US funding of European political parties. European citizens deserve to see a clear picture.

We attribute a special significance to the US Congress’ initiative in light of the ongoing political farce which was launched by Fidesz against MEP Béla Kovács, a representative of Hungary’s strongest opposition party one and half years ago, and so far has been unable to produce any evidence to support the allegations. We hope that the earliest possible disclosure of the report will reveal the truth and unveil Fidesz’ vicious political game solely designed to divert public attention from the rampant corruption of the government party.

January 20, 2016
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Member

I think there is a better question to ask: Is Orban financed by Russia?

Let’s clarify something here: Russia = Soviet Union. Anyone who supports present form of Russia is simply supports an advanced state of the Soviet idea, a state where some help is given to the poor but the wealth is centralized and legitimized in the hands of a few. Russia’s current leaders are old communist party supporters, a few who did work for the the party or for the KGB. Very similar situation in Hungary, as Kover and Orban did serve the communist party. As far as Jobbik goes, their ideas of “common wealth” are the same ideas. “Kutyabol em less szalonna.” There can’t be bacon made out of a dog. (As the Hungarian saying goes.) Both parties are courting the Russians, and Russia is keeping both of them close to the fire.

petofi
Guest

In Russia, two of four parties are United Russia and A Just Cause–both of them are Putin’s. It’s similar to the economic strategy of creating another product to compete against one’s own and deprive legitimate opposition.

Doesn’t that sound like Fidesz and Jobbik?

pegdsd
Guest

All of the parties in Russia are Putin’s (controlled by Putin’s circle) not just the two. It’s a time-honored Russian method.

Observer
Guest

I doubt Russia is paying Orban directly. No need, Orban is spending public moneis as his own. Paks would offer a historical opportunity to his mafia to rip off perhaps over 1 000 billion Ft.

Member

Not directly. Orban is not stupid, even if he deals with mental problems.

0-2016
Guest

The current regime, and its supporters are advocating war on different subjects: liberalism, democracy, EU, NATO, education, healthcare, art, culture,minorities, etc.

The other Hungary should support peace with everybody.

Not a good idea?

Guest
Re: Putin\’s designs for Europe I\’d think when looking through his telescope towards the continent he must be very pleased seeing the rise of far right activities in European capitals that are supposedly democratic in nature. He\’s gained much to use them to instill divisiveness in their societies and institutions and further his own notion of how modern states should function nowadays. And it ain\’t from a democratic point of view. The longer Putin sees Europe and the EU vacillate in executing \’principles\’ the more brazen he will be to push his agenda relentlessly. I\’d think Orban and Mr. K in Poland are getting the hint. From their activities, it appears they like what they see to continue forging ahead with their undemocratic agendas. These guys could be very good pals down the line. And if they\’re not reading it already I\’d figure it will be Ivan Ilyin \’s philosophy in translation. Allegedly he\’s influenced Putin where he Orban and perhaps Mr. K of Poland now believe moves or a continued commitment to democracy are at the last analysis \’naive, light-minded and irresponsible\’. Putin looks like the \’Nagy Bacsi\’ now. He looks to be the shining new political evangel over… Read more »
Guest

Yecch.

Member

The US hasn’t lifted a finger against kuruc.info?

http://budapestbeacon.com/news-in-brief/bench-warrant-issued-arrest-kuruc-info-owner-bela-varga/10136

Let’s also keep in mind that US free speech laws give kuruc a degree of protection that does not exist in Hungary.

petofi
Guest

Some news for Viktor, Fidesz and the Jobbik boys: conditions in mother Russia are not so rosy–crude is at $27per; 20 million Russians live in poverty; inflation is at 12.5%.

I don’t hear much loose change tinkling in the Russian cupboards for Paks, do you?

Guest
London Calling! Underlying all this propaganda war is the undeniable position of Putin\’s Russia as a rogue state – as rogue as any corrupt nation including Hungary. A conflict of ideology with the West. We will hear later today about our enquiry into the State Murder of a man in London. The Litvinenko case to many of us is Putin murdering an old colleague with Polonium – only available at State level – out of revenge. The trail of Polonium leads unequivocally to Putin\’s door – as we will conclude later this morning – it\’s due in about an hour. That Orban is such a hero-worshipper of Putin – and enters into corrupt nuclear power loans is shocking and speaks volumes. And Putin\’s support of Bomber-Al-Assad brings stalemate to the Syrian situation against all humanitarian values – another conflict of ideology with truth the first casualty. State murder – Russia – with Hungary a willing partner in Putin\’s mendacity is testament enough for Hungary to be chucked out of the EU. It should\’ve happened years ago – and with Poland going native, she should put her coat on ready to leave. Orban should be ejected from the EU….. Hungary should… Read more »
Guest
Last night my partner and I bumped into a Hungarian who we come across in musical activities now and again. She told my partner that she had just sold the family home in Hungary and with a hand clap gesture as if she was washing her hands followed by single dismissal gesture – said she was completely out if Hungary. Hungary no more. Gone. Ninc. She said her parents had relocated happily to Germany and she is so happy in London. She has been very successful in her media publicity career and her English is unimpeachable. She wants no further connection with her homeland and when I asked why – she said yes it was the money and the lifestyle – she said she had had opportunities and recognition that she could never have had in Hungary. She had come to despise Hungary and her old acquaintances’ attitudes that she encountered when she returned. She found herself alienated to everything Hungarian. She said this was despite having contacts with many of the diaspora over here – there are many Hungarians and Romanian’s here who she mixes with as a violinist – she is a Hungarian from Hungary. (Not one of… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Not ‘sad’.
Happy and healthy.
One has to react vehemently to efforts to pervert democratic ideals, civil society, and the eradication of the rule of law.

Guest

I found cch’s post very intriguing in the sense that it made me mull over those words of ‘wants no connection with her homeland’.

Now that was the gist when my mother was vehemently opposed to my visiting ‘her’ country. She told me very unequivocally in a way that that came as ‘don’t you dare put a foot over there’. Well of course I did and got an education on life lived in another part of the world and that was many years ago. Glad I saw it. Opened up how the road to hell can be paved with ‘good’ intentions. Today well it seems it’s same old same old. No change.

What is it about a country that destroys the love that originally flowed to it? If somebody could figure that out and learn to destroy the thought and apply it somewhere else in the Magyar psyche well the country could make a new and better life for itself and its people. But the thing is no one seems to care.

Istvan
Guest

Investigations of Russian Federation subversion of the political process in numerous countries is all fine and good. Because I suspect the CIA already knows the answers to the questions being posed. The question is what to do about it? I think that question will have to be answered by the next administration in our government here in the USA. As anyone who has read my posts relating to Putin and the Russian Federation is aware my thinking is for aggressive confrontation of Russia, economically, covertly, and with a slow but aggressive increase in our military posture towards the Russians. My perspective I think reflects the thinking of our military and security sectors here in the USA. Are we talking here about a new cold war? Yes possibly we are.

Guest

Yep, raise the ante with the Russians until they cry uncle. Ultimately, the only thing Russians understand is the language of the fist.

The end of the day, all the US has to do is send the Russians broke with competitive economic and military pressure as in Reagan’s time.

But after the Russians cave in, pursue policies that will make them into solid allies, not like the asinine American policies in the nineties that alienated them.

Guest

Solid allies? Like during the War and then seeing the ‘romance’ disentegrate? And Mother Russia going off the deep end?

You know in the intervening years Germany
was astute to learn much from her disastrous 20th century. The country has put her mistakes behind her and has been successful in orienting itself and trying to create a ‘working’ modern Europe for the 21st. And Russia? Still stuck in the sandbox not able to ‘play with others’. The veritable ‘bad boy’ sucking up everybody’s valuable time with putting out their fires. They got the Crimea. Watch for arson in the Baltics up ahead. Perhaps Europe and the US will learn to be once-again…. erstwhile and steadfast firemen.

Guest

The current oil pricing is already a kind of “cold war” or better economic war imho – all those governments which relied on the oil money (instead of real businesses) are in trouble.

Only the strong will survive – and strong also is an aspect of your character!

petofi
Guest

@wolfi7777

“Only the strong will survive”–

Were it, “Only the Just and Decent” will survive!

But the modern world has gone topsy-turvy: the common man can no longer distinguish between what is well done or not by his government…he is so mis-led by the various stripes of media–left, right and center. There ought to be, per country, one central ‘office of truth’ (staffed by leading, anonymous, professors and bussinessmen) which gives a clear assessment of government policy and action. Who can now tell now whether a government’s actions are of good will or not? (Of course, I am now talking of the US–in Hungary, the answer to this question is plain.) All this meandering of mine is about the confusion and anger of the American voter in now voicing his frustration by the obviously
ridiculous support for the buffoon, Trump. So, in the US, the support for a person obviously not suited for public office, is based on anger and confusion.

Not so in Hungary. The support for Orban comes from the mangled, self-victimized, mentality of mainstream Hungarians who thrive on the successes of ill gotten goods, and the manic
pleasures of anti-semitism.

bimbi
Guest

This post includes an indication of the level of corruption in the Fidesz/Orbán state, a level that was rather quickly achieved, namely:

“Since then Polt has been free to investigate and to question (Béla) Kovács. To this day, however, nothing has happened.”

Of course not! Because Fidesz does not prosecute or even investigate, its own. Nothing will be done. All the show trials of recent years have been trumped-up cases against Socialists and in general they have ended in ignominious failure for the regime – but who cares? It is the opportunity given to the regime to throw mud that is important. Look at the case of the Civil organizations, for example, notwithstanding Doubting Thomas Lázár.

The level of professional corruption within the judiciary, starting with the activities of Navracsics and continuing under Polt is appalling for it has corroded the very foundation of society and rule-of-law in Hungary today and, alas, it will, well into the future.

Istvan
Guest

Eva’s friend the black-clad nurse working off her fines with two-hours of community service http://nol.hu/video/ez-az-orszag-szegyene-kozmunkas-lett-sandor-maria-1585395

wpDiscuz