Tag Archives: György Budaházy

Hot topics of the day: Budaházy and Ráhel Orbán

The Hungarian media was preoccupied with two topics today. The first was the reaction to the stiff sentences handed out in the case of György Budaházy and his co-conspirators, who were convicted of terrorist activities. The other was the recent discovery of mysterious “negotiations” undertaken by Ráhel Orbán, eldest child of the prime minister, and her husband, István Tiborcz, in Bahrain.

The day after the trial

As one could anticipate, the Hungarian extreme right is outraged. Jobbik’s official internet news site is full of stories of the “seventeen patriots” who were in the forefront of the “national resistance” against the traitorous Gyurcsány government. What Budaházy and his friends did in 2006-2007 was a historic act. László Toroczkai, an old friend of Budaházy who today is the Jobbik mayor of Ásotthalom at the Serbian-Hungarian border, is demanding that Fidesz take a stand on the issue.

But Fidesz refuses to make any comments on the case. The closest approximation to a comment was an opinion piece by Zsolt Bayer that appeared today in Magyar Hírlap. Bayer’s memories of terrorist acts committed by the Budaházy gang, I suspect, are purposely vague. He remembers “some kind of a video of some kind of an explosion,” but basically he can’t imagine that this gentle man could possibly commit such atrocities. He is just hoping that there is “real evidence.”

In connection with the case, Bayer poses a number of questions: “Were they really the ones who threw Molotov cocktails into the houses of politicians? Were they the ones who beat up Csintalan?” And don’t forget, “the body is missing that lay on the street in Olaszliszka* as well as the one that was lifted from the lake in Kaposvár**.” Finally, Bayer says, comes the most important question: if Budaházy received 13 years, then what about Ferenc Gyurcsány and Péter Gergényi, police chief of Budapest at the time of the 2006 disturbances? After all, they are “the two most notorious miscreants of the age.” This question must be asked because “without Gyurcsány, Gergényi (and Draskovics, Szilvásy, and Bajnai) there is no Budaházy.” In brief, the guilty ones are not Budaházy and his fellow terrorists but the governments of Gyurcsány and Bajnai. I take Bayer’s attitude toward the Budaházy case to be a reasonably close approximation to the views of the Fidesz leadership.

András Schiffer’s Facebook note “Budaházy 13 years, how many for shooting out eyes” drew appreciative comments from the right, including Fidesz sympathizers. Viktor Orbán has been trying for years to implicate Gyurcsány in the “police brutality” during the 2006 street disturbances. Up to now they have been unsuccessful. They couldn’t come up with anything to tie Gyurcsány to the police action at the time. The decision to deal with the situation was entirely in the hands of the police chief and his close associates. And even at that level, although the Orbán government brought charges against Gergényi, they couldn’t prove their case.

According to Jobbik and Fidesz supporters, what happened on the streets in 2006 was “police terror,” pure and simple. They therefore equate the “terrorism” of Gyurcsány with the terrorist acts of Budaházy and his companions. The other side, by contrast, remains convinced that the disturbances were an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of the country and that Fidesz politicians were in touch with the leaders of the mob that was supposed spark a general revolt in the population. It just didn’t work out. András Schiffer, who is allegedly a democratic politician, sided with the extreme right and Fidesz on this issue. It is no wonder that the liberals and socialists are outraged.

The most eloquent condemnation of Schiffer came from Árpád W. Tóta in HVG, according to whom “András Schiffer took a deep breath and sank to the deep where Krisztina Morvai*** resides.” Schiffer should know the difference between an accident that happens during the dispersion of a crowd and premeditated criminal acts committed in a conspiratorial manner. Tóta admits that he never had a good opinion of Schiffer, but he never thought that Schiffer was wired into the same circuit as Krisztina Morvai. I can only agree with Tóta.

Ráhel Orbán and her husband in Bahrain

I must say that Ráhel Orbán, who by now is 27 years old, gets herself into a lot of trouble, unlike her brother Gáspár and younger sister Sára. One reason is that she appears to be interested in politics. Moreover, it seems that father and daughter work together on projects. As we know, Ráhel is interested in the entertainment and tourist industry. A few months ago there was a lot of talk about the government’s centralization of the industry under an umbrella organization in which Ráhel might play a prominent role. But, and this is yesterday’s scoop, it seems that Ráhel might also have been given an unofficial diplomatic assignment.

444.hu discovered an article on the website of Bahrain’s National Oil & Gas Authority (NOGA) with accompanying photos showing the Minister of Energy Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, Ahmed Ali Al Sharyan, the general-secretary of NOGA, Ms. Ráhel Orbán, mistakenly identified as the wife of the prime minister of Hungary, and Balázs Garamvölgyi, the Hungarian consul in Bahrain. István Tiborcz, also in the picture, was not identified in the caption. This visit took place in September 2015. According to the article

They discussed a number of global oil and gas market and energy issues (…) investment opportunities and expanding economic and trade ties between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of Hungary. They discussed the benefit to the national economy in both friendly countries from improved cooperation.

Ms. Orban and her accompanying delegation expressed their deep appreciation to H.E. Dr. Mirza and thanked him for the warm reception and issues discussed, which were aimed at creating a sustainable business environment and helping build new trade and investment bridges between the two countries that will enhance the economic interests of both. They wished every success to the Kingdom for further development and prosperity.

The press department of the prime minister’s office had no information on Ráhel Orbán’s trip to Bahrain. A few hours later, however, Ráhel Orbán in her usual arrogant style released a statement saying that “between September 17 and 20, 2015 my husband and I paid a private visit to Barhrain [sic]. We paid for all expenses. All other claims are lies,” I guess even NOGA’s press release. Diplomacy is not her strength. Father and daughter express themselves forcefully. Of course, this answer is no answer at all. No one claimed that it was the Hungarian government that paid for their trip. The issue is her involvement in negotiations with Bahrain’s minister of energy.

bahrein1

Panic must have set in government circles after the revelations of 444.hu and word must have reached the politicians in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, because by now the objectionable text about negotiations has disappeared and has been replaced by the following:

Minister of Energy His Excellency Dr. Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza received in his office at the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) on a courtesy visit, the daughter of Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary Ms. Rahel Orban, accompanied by the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hungary to the Kingdom of Bahrain Mr. Balazs Garamvolgyi, in the presence of Dr. Ahmed Ali Al Sharyan, the NOGA General Secretary.

H.E. Dr. Mirza welcomed the distinguished visitors in the Kingdom of Bahrain and gave a brief overview of the economy of Bahrain.

Ms. Orban and the accompanying guests expressed their deep appreciation for H.E. Dr. Mirza, and thanked him for the warm reception.

They wished every success to the Kingdom for further development and prosperity.

Journalists at Index had a lot of fun with Balázs Garamvölgyi, who gave “probably the best mini-interview of his life” because he conveniently forgot what he was doing in Bahrain. As he said, “it was last September and I really no longer remember.” But one thing HírTV managed to learn: Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, had no knowledge of any official trip undertaken by Ráhel and her husband to Bahrain.

István Tiborcz definitely needs a new suit and Ráhel a new dress

István Tiborcz definitely needs a new suit and Ráhel a new dress

The latest piece of news is that one month after Ráhel Orbán’s visit to Bahrain a delegation from MOL, an international oil and gas company headquartered in Budapest, paid a visit to Abdul Hussein bin Ali Mirza, minister and head of the National Oil and Gas Authority. Garamvölgyi, who seems to have miraculously recovered from amnesia, insists that the two visits had absolutely nothing to do with one another. Of course not. The author of the blog “Most és Itt” (Now and Here) told this story in the form of a fairy tale (“The little royal princess Ráhel in Bahrain”). Most adults no longer believe in fairy tales just as we don’t believe that the two events had nothing to do with one another. Let’s finish this story with the customary last line in Hungarian fairy tales: “Itt a vége, fuss el véle.” Here is the end, run with it.

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*Olaszliszka was the town where a group of Roma killed a man driving through town because they thought that a little girl had been killed by his car.

**A reference to the brutal murder of a little boy whose body was thrown into a lake near Kaposvár in 2012.

***Krisztina Morvai began her career as a liberal civil rights lawyer but eventually ended up as a fiercely anti-Semitic member of Jobbik. Currently she represents the party in the EU Parliament.

August 31, 2016

The first convicted Hungarian terrorist: György Budaházy

Sympathizers of the extreme right are outraged. György Budaházy and 15 of his co-conspirators were found guilty of terrorist activities committed during 2006 and 2007. Yes, ten years ago, and this is not the final verdict. Both sides are appealing. The prosecution claims the sentences were too lenient. The defense wants the case dismissed.

The judicial history of cases against Budaházy is so complicated that it would take days to trace their course up and down the legal system for more than a decade. The courts just don’t know what to do with terrorists/heroes. Thus I can’t be as confident as Ágnes Vadai of the Demokratikus Koalíció when she expressed her satisfaction with the first and only verdict against far-right terrorists in Hungary. It’s quite possible that within a year all the members of the Arrows of Hungarians, the movement established by Budaházy, will be acquitted.

Budaházy is the offspring of a family whose roots go back to the thirteenth century. By now, however, he has little else but his name to distinguish him. The stories of his renowned ancestors fighting for the homeland might have been his justification for exulting tradition and having a mission to restore Hungary to its former greatness.

He became first known in 2002 when a disappointed Viktor Orbán made remarks insinuating that the election had been stolen by the socialist/liberal parties. The electoral law stipulated the destruction of the ballots after a certain period of time after which Budaházy, claiming fraud, organized a blockade of the Elizabeth Bridge across the Danube. The inexperienced police force must have spent at least four hours trying to remove Budaházy and his handful of followers. Nothing happened to him then.

From that point on, Budaházy continued to taunt the authorities. He was arrested and let go several times until, in January 2008, he was charged with incitement against the democratic order as a result of letters published in the infamous kuruc.info, a website associated with Jobbik. In them, he outlined how to build barricades and argued how important it is to have bullet-proof vests. He asserted that “a patriotic dictatorship is much better than a democracy that squanders the future,” among many other equally compelling slogans. He envisaged “commando units that will destroy the enemies,” he urged people to blockade the capital, he talked about the stones and Molotov cocktails that would ensure the patriots’ victory over the people’s enemies. He told the democratically elected politicians and officials “to vanish if they want to save their lives.” Parliament, he wrote, should be forcibly dissolved. Once the democratic regime collapsed, a “sacred leadership,” whatever that means, would be established. At that point the presiding judge admitted that Budaházy overstepped the boundaries of what is acceptable as free speech, but, after all, he said, his calls for the overthrow of the government remained unanswered. As I said at the time, “that to me means that he is not guilty because he wasn’t successful.”

The appellate court judge agreed with me. He overruled the verdict and ordered the proceedings to begin anew. This time a different judge found Budaházy guilty and sentenced him to a one-year suspended sentence. Another appeal followed, which upheld the lower court’s decision. Budaházy’s lawyer at this point requested a review of the case from Hungary’s highest court, the Kúria, which in June 2012 acquitted him.

But Budaházy’s verbal calls to action were soon enough followed by deeds. He and his associates used Molotov cocktails against the party headquarters of the socialist and liberal parties and the homes of several members of the government. The Arrows of Hungarians also set fire to a club called Red Csepel, the Broadway ticket office, and two bars frequented by gays. They blew up an ATM in Székesfehérvár to get money for their endeavors. They also severely beat Sándor Csintalan, a former MSZP politician, who at the time worked for HírTV. The attackers kept yelling: “you damned filthy Jew.” They did all that to raise the level of fear and force the government to resign.

Because of these criminal acts the Central Investigative Prosecutor’s Office (Központi Nyomozó Főügyészség) in September 2010 charged Budaházy and 16 others with terrorism, causing bodily harm, and coercion. Today’s verdict was in connection with this case. Of the 17 defendants two received suspended sentences. The sentences for the other 15 were harsh. Budaházy himself got 13 years without the possibility of parole, of which he will have to serve 11 years since he has already spent two years, on different occasions, in custody.

The severity of the punishment stunned the spectators, mostly extreme right-wing sympathizers. When Budaházy appeared in the courtroom, he was greeted with frenetic applause. In turn, he greeted his sympathizers with “Szabadság” (Freedom). (Ironically, that was the greeting used by the members of the communist party in the early years of the Rákosi regime.) After the verdict was announced several people cried.

The sympathizers greet György Source: Népszabadság / Photo: Imre Földi

The sympathizers greet György Budaházy
Source: Népszabadság / Photo: Imre Földi

During the trial the accused men denied their guilt, but some made self-incriminating statements or gave accusatory testimony against others. Budaházy’s defense lawyer, István Szikinger, in his statement, downplayed the actions of his defendant, claiming that “happy is the country which has such terrorists.” He charged that during the investigative phase several instances of malfeasance occurred, and he wants Budaházy acquitted of all charges. The prosecution, which is appealing for a harsher sentence, sees the situation very differently. According to the prosecutor, a strict military hierarchy existed within the movement in which the members followed the orders of Budaházy.

György Budaházy waiting for the verdict Source Népszabadság / Photo: Imre Földi

György Budaházy waiting for the verdict
Source Népszabadság / Photo: Imre Földi

Jobbik, several of whose politicians were present at the reading of the verdict, is outraged. The official Jobbik statement claims that the verdict is the greatest shame of the last 26 years. Budaházy is convicted, but “none of communist leaders of the Biszku-type,* the culprits of the robber privatization, corrupt politicians, or Ferenc Gyurcsány and his friends who are responsible for the police terror of 2006 ended up behind bars.”

In its accusation of Ferenc Gyurcsány Jobbik was not alone. András Schiffer, former co-chairman of LMP, wrote on his Facebook page: “Budaházy 13 years. How many for shooting out eyes?” This accusation of “shooting out eyes” became Fidesz’s battle cry, repeated over and over until it finally stuck. The “shooting out eyes” supposedly happened when the police “attacked peaceful demonstrators” with rubber bullets. The “battle” that was fought on the streets of Budapest was anything but peaceful. More inexperienced policemen were injured than so-called peaceful demonstrators. And yes, at one point the police used rubber bullets, but only one person suffered an eye injury as a result.

A terrorist, a poster child for injustice, a hero. Is it any wonder that the Hungarian courts can’t find their way in the Budaházy case?

 

*Béla Biszku was a hardline communist who, after the failed revolution of 1956, served as minister of interior. In 2011 he was charged with war crimes. He was accused of failing to protect civilians in wartime. In addition, he was held responsible for ordering the security forces to open fire on crowds. He died in 2014 while his lawyer was appealing his sentence in the first instance. I wrote in more detail about Biszku’s case earlier.

August 30, 2016