Don’t expect anything even remotely resembling a coherent post today. I’m covering what is likely a fabricated allegation on the off chance that it, or a spin-off of it, morphs into something significant.
Pesti Srácok was the first internet news site to break the story, which spread like wildfire online. In it we learned that “a dreaded character of night life was sent to discredit Sándor Pintér.” A former national security officer gone rogue, Róbert Jakubinyi, wanted to use György Tanyi, who was arrested in 2012 for having allegedly attempted murder in 1996, to carry out a character assassination of the minister of interior. Tanyi is currently under house arrest.
The story was incredibly muddled. Jakubinyi allegedly paid a visit to Tanyi’s lawyer, trying to get her to cooperate with him in his attempt to have compromising documents about Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér smuggled out of the country. He wanted her to convince Tanyi to violate his house arrest and leave the country, taking along the compromising documents, which, by the way, the police claims were fake. But not even threats and a 20 million forint bribe changed her mind.
György Tanyi was a suspect in a 1996 case involving a driver at a trotting course. I wrote at some length about the case in October 2013. He and his two brothers were never even accused of the crime because a police investigation determined that although the bullets were fired from a gun similar in caliber and make to a gun owned by the brothers, they were not fired from the Tanyi brothers’ weapon. The suspicion has lingered ever since that Sándor Pintér, chief of the national police force at the time, was in some way involved. There was talk that Pintér was the one who replaced the Tanyi brothers’ gun to save their skins. It didn’t help Pintér’s case that he first denied having been on the scene, which later proved to be wrong. Whatever the real facts, it is strange that Tanyi was arrested only 16 years later.
Pesti Srácok also reported that the intelligence community suspects that foreign agents or foreign services are behind Jakubinyi’s undertaking. He is also accused of gathering information on important Fidesz politicians, especially on Viktor Orbán. For example, he wanted to learn whether Orbán reported to the internal security forces while studying in Great Britain at the end of 1989. Pesti Srácok seemed to know that Jakubinyi was passing on information about Fidesz to MSZP politicians during the 2010 election campaign.
Pesti Srácok and subsequently other government media outlets, like Magyar Idők and 888.hu, related this cockeyed story as fact. Válasz, on the other hand, a conservative but by and large pro-government publication, couldn’t quite swallow what on the face of it seemed to be sheer nonsense. The Válasz reporter who covered the story found it incredible. Some obvious questions presented themselves off the bat. Why was it necessary to use a fugitive from justice to smuggle out fake documents? Why was it necessary to physically cross borders with these documents when, in our digital world, the task could be accomplished with a few clicks on a laptop? Válasz found the story “strongly reminiscent of the 1950s.” What is behind this whole thing? the journalist asked. Is it possible that the government expects some revealing article from abroad on Pintér’s corruption and wants to prepare the ground for it?
With each passing day the government media further embellished the story. Magyar Idők reported on March 18 that there was a likelihood that “the character assassination of government members may continue and the prime minister himself might also be a target.” The National Defense Service (Nemzeti Védelmi Szolgálat) gathered enough evidence for the Buda Central District Court (Budai Központi Kerületi Bíróság/BKKB) to order Jakubinyi’s pre-trial detention.
From this Magyar Idők article we learned something that may shed light on the rationale for this story. In justifying its pre-trial detention of Tanyi, BKKB stated that “the investigation began only a month ago, and it required a very broad investigative effort.” Let me remind everybody that Átlátszó published key passages from Jürgen Roth’s Schmutzige Demokratie, in which Dietmar Clodo described Semion Mogilevich’s alleged bribery of both Sándor Pintér and Viktor Orbán. I would find it very strange if the current case against Jakubinyi had nothing to do with Roth’s Clodo story. I covered the story on February 5, 2017. Antónia Rádi of Átlátszó, who initially broke the story in 2013, also wrote an article titled “Do the Mafiosos attack or defend the minister of justice?” It is a very complicated story, but Rádi seems to be convinced that, even though Jakubinyi is currently sitting in jail, he is in cahoots with Pintér. He is being used, willingly or unwillingly, to deflect attention away from Pintér’s difficulties as a result of the Clodo testimony.
Magyar Idők reported today that Sándor Pintér is expecting ever more attacks from abroad because of Hungary’s “consistent and decisive action against migrants.” The other source of attack is domestic. The police under the supervision of the minister of interior are doing such a splendid job of eliminating criminals that certain criminal elements decided to strike back.
Well, that’s it. Is this story a preemptive strike? Does the government expect Pintér to come under closer scrutiny? I have no idea. We’ll have to wait to see what develops.