Search for saboteurs brings back unpleasant memories

Some journalists, especially of the younger generation, find the situation created by the incompetence of the Budapest Transit Authority (BKK) in handling the cyber attack on its website amusing. Every time the CEO of BKK or the mayor of Budapest opens his mouth it is patently obvious that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. And then there are the repeated breakdowns of the Russian-made metro cars, which are getting harder and harder to explain away. The reasons they offer are greeted with hilarity and incredulity. In turn, Mayor István Tarlós, who has had a fairly rocky relationship with the press, devotes his considerable energies to attacking the “tee-heeing”(heherésző) scribblers.

Since the leaders of the city are reluctant to admit that the problems are the result of either their own incompetence or the shoddy work of the Russian firm that produced the metro cars, they blame the media for exaggerating the rare and in any case fairly inconsequential mishaps. And if that tactic doesn’t work, they are quite ready to blame someone else for their own shortcomings. This is exactly what’s going on with the cyber attack against BKK and the obstinate metro car doors that refuse to close. In both cases, Tarlós talked about sabotage that had been carefully planned way ahead of time.

At least for the time being, however, the journalists don’t seem to be frightened. They compare the present situation to the 1950s when the communist leadership could easily find a couple of saboteurs who were responsible for the failure of a new factory to open by the deadline. Journalists recall Comrade Virág, the legendary character of the famous Hungarian film “The Witness,” who would be very impressed (if he lived today) by the government’s ability to find “three anti-people sabotages in one week.”

As for the explanation of the latest metro car incident, jokes abound in the opposition media about the “wooden block” that someone placed in the track of the sliding door. No one really believes the story. So, Tarlós made sure at his July 27 press conference that the journalists realize “this is not a joke,” because for such an act of sabotage the prescribed jail term is five years. The media’s reaction is that of deep distrust: if the powers that be work hard enough, they will find culprits. Everybody has heard stories about those dreadful days more than 60 years ago, which seem to be returning.

For the time being at least Tarlós stands behind Kálmán Dabóczi, CEO of BKK. After all, Dabóczi was his choice in 2014 when Tarlós fired the young Dávid Vitézy, whom he accused of hysterical and anti-social behavior. At the time I didn’t follow the “soap opera,” as Tarlós called it, of the firing of Vitézy but, if I recall properly, Vitézy had ideas that Tarlós found far too revolutionary, among them the introduction of the latest IT technology in running the public transportation system of Budapest.

From what Dabóczi had to say about the cyber attack on BKK’s website, it is clear that he doesn’t know the first thing about computer science and the internet. I don’t know how seriously one should take what Tarlós said at his press conference about the details of the massive attack that occurred after the discovery of the initial software problems. One begins to have doubts about the “experts” BKK apparently consulted who claim that a cyber attack of that magnitude is extremely costly. After all, says Tarlós, “40 million people entered BKK’s website within an hour, which costs 300 million forints and a lot of human resources.” One doesn’t need to be a computer expert to know that such attacks are powered by botnets. They are quite inexpensive (apparently starting at about $7 an hour) and need no manpower. Tarlós bragged about his knowledge by explaining that the hackers used 87 IP addresses and that what really did the system in were attacks from “foreign servers.” Well, of course. But at least Tarlós concluded that such a costly operation could not have been launched by the 18-year-old high school student. One ought to add that Tarlós likes to portray himself as a man of superior knowledge about everything technological because of his degree in engineering.

István Tarlós with the wooden block on display

Although demands from opposition forces are numerous for Kálmán Dabóczi’s dismissal, Tarlós stands behind the man, even though the CEO of BKK, who was known in the past as a champion of “morality,” lied several times in the course of the discovery of the software error. Since BKK and its CEO are innocent, the culprit must be the German T-Systems and its Hungarian affiliate, whose leadership “slyly lie low,” according to Tarlós. Without wanting to defend T-Systems, which obviously delivered shoddy work, one must also lay some blame on BKK, which turned a blind eye to warnings about the system’s security problems.

As for the problems of the metro car doors, what can one say? Tarlós’s  explanation that the wooden block was most likely put in the door’s track “between stations” makes no sense to me. After all, between stations the doors are closed. Of course, the skeptical journalists and the equally skeptical public are certain that there was no wooden block, although Tarlós had one on display.

During this same press conference Tarlós put his foot in his mouth when he was asked about the absence of handicapped accessibility at some of the stations. He claimed that there is only one disabled person in every 1,000 passengers, and therefore the additional cost is not warranted. Of course, his explanation is ridiculous because if the metro is not handicapped accessible, very few handicapped people will use it. The second problem is that his numbers are all wrong. The National Federation of the Association of Disabled Persons (MEOSZ) reacted by pointing out that making the metro handicapped accessible is not a choice. It is the regulatory duty of the city. In addition, Tarlós’s statistics are faulty: one in every ten people is handicapped according to the World Health Organization. Moreover, there are parents with baby carriages and older people who have difficulties with escalators and stairs. In the opinion of MEOSZ’s president, Tarlós and the City Council never seriously considered making the M3 line handicapped accessible, and therefore he is planning to make an illegal move. It’s time to find solutions instead of creating excuses.

So, that’s where we stand. Meanwhile the cyber crime experts in the national security offices attached to the ministry of interior are looking for the man with 300 million forints who attacked BKK in order to create chaos during the World Aquatic Championships.

July 31, 2017
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Jean P.
Guest

The story about the wooden block is amazing. No ordinary saboteur would use a wooden block to immobilise a sliding door. He would use a wedge which does not need to be mufactured with a precise shape to fit into a particular door. If a block was used it points to an insider job. Not that I believe there was any job.

LwiiH
Guest

Who knows, it could have been put in by a repair guy to keep the door opening while working on it.
In my experience i have found t-systems to be the most backwards and incompetent IT shop I’ve ever encountered. I strongly doubt that they designed or deployed a system that was designed to manage anywhere near 1,000,000 visits per hour let alone 40 mil. The cost of delivering such a system would outstrip the need or ability of BKK to have the budget for it.

Guest

Ah, A Tanú!

I still remember when I watched that film the first time together with my wife and being astonished that this kind of thing was produced in “Communist” Hungary …

But to think that today’s Hungary again really starts to resemble the crazy system described there – unbelievable!

PS and OT:
Egeszséges Erotica was my other favourite and then of course Üveg Tigris – it’s really fascinating how these great films were made with small budgets!
And there were many others too – some in the style even of the famous French Tati. It’s a pity that these films aren’t better known outside Hungary – they were really good at describing and analysing the Communist system …

I wonder if we will some day see films describing Fidesztan/Orbanistan? And again this reminds me of Karl Marx:
History repeats itself – the first time as a tragedy, the second time around as a farce …

wrfree
Guest

Perhaps one day I can get or see the ‘Witness’. One I need to absolutely see.

Immediately brought up the great ‘The Third Man’, another seemingly ‘culprit-witness’ in the desolation of individuals and the society they live in. Magyarorszag seems to replicate today a desperate and ruinous post-war amoral Vienna. The only thing different is that the Magyar buildings are ‘nicer’.

And in a comment on TTM Martin Scorsese noted that William Wyler , the great film director, sent as a joke to Carol Reed its director a level. It was supposed to ‘keep his camera straight’. Nowadays Magyar film directors would be social realists indeed with the cameras filming ‘on the oblique’. For nothing is at seems in the nefarious and secret atmosphere of the country today.

Guest

You probably know that Hungarian Jews also had a big influence on Hollywood – From Michael Curtiz (Casablanca!) to Tony Curtis, from Peter Lorre to the Korda brothers and last not least Istvan Szabo (Mephisto) …

wrfree
Guest

Yes. Amazing how one country’s tragedies provides a boon for another. And not only just in film, but art, music , writing , science etc etc etc. I’m afraid Orban’s fortress-Magyarorszag tragedies will fester within. They will have nothing better to do than bark back at all the baying ‘dogs’ at the gates and perhaps eventually turn on themselves. What a waste of time and lives ….and energy to occupy the time they have left.

petofi
Guest

(no baying dogs…they will all have been eaten-)

exTor
Guest

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Speaking of Hollywood Hungarians, dont forget László Kovács, born in Cece, which is east and south of Lake Balaton. Cant say if he was Jewish, but he had talent and won many awards. He was the cinematographer [operatőr] for, amongst other films, Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces.

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Easy Rider [Szelíd Motorosok] was a seminal work that greatly influenced the way movies (much influenced by French New Wave) were made by Hollywood in the early 1970s. To me, Easy Rider defined that hippie age.

Still in highschool, I saw it in 1969, on acid, of course. I again saw it, the next time being in Hungary in 1984 with my Magyar girlfriend. I was straight and somewhat disappointed as some of the scenes had been cut.

We can ignore Hollywood Hungarians like Andy Vajna.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Aida
Guest

I met him once, in 1956 shortly before he left Hungary. I met him simply because he was going out with a girl next door. They shot some footage of the revolution and they both left.

Guest

Oh, I also have wonderful memories about Easy Rider and yes, it defined that hippie age.

PS:
is this a sign of getting old, to remember and dream of these past experiences? 🙂

Kávé
Guest

A Tanú (The Witness) can be watched online (in the original Hungarian) for free here: http://videa.hu/videok/kreativ/a-tanu-Mnphb91oddE35Gff

Guest

Thanks,Kávé!
What about other films like those I mentioned?

PS:
Many years ago we had a long discussion on these wonderful films on the now defunct sister site of pol.hu (forgot the name …) – there were many more, also films made after 1989 which were fantastic.
Valami Amerika (is that correct?)
And there was a film about the adventures of a group of Hungarian soldiers at the end of WW2 – also a tragicomedy …

exTor
Guest

On the day that the 1936 Olympics commenced in Berlin, I thought that I’d send this for the Francophiles in the Hungarian Spectrum readership.

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I think that I’m going to have to start brushing up on my four years of highschool French. It might take me that long (until 2024).

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And Viktor O thought that Budapest actually had a chance? First guess, Orbán, why Magyarland wasn’t in the running from the getgo: your mirror.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Michael Kaplan
Guest

I saw “The Witness”. It is frightening to see the collaboration with the Russians, let alone the use of ex Kadar loyalists. 1984 indeed.

tappanch
Guest

The Fidesz party’s micromanagement of the media, in the words of a participating journalist.

https://www.reddit.com/r/hungary/comments/6qvxx7/a_korm%C3%A1nym%C3%A9di%C3%A1ban_dolgozom_ama/?sort=old

tappanch
Guest

Journalist: “We no longer have to serve the market [the public], we serve the government, which gives most of the money”

Guest

Gleichschaltung er Medien – you surely know who invented that …

wpDiscuz