Tag Archives: internal security agents

Gábor Vona is trying to cast doubt on Viktor Orbán’s past

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Interior Minister Sándor Pintér have faced some hard times in the last couple of months. There is, for instance, the Jürgen Roth story about Dietmar Clodo’s testimony that Semion Mogilevich may have bribed both Pintér and Orbán in the 1990s. This story might have induced Pintér to prepare the ground for the possibility of foreign attacks on both him and the prime minister. He added, of course, that whatever foreign secret service agencies have on them are forgeries.

And now Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, is challenging Viktor Orbán about his alleged past as an informer.

The topic came to the fore two years ago when Lajos Simicska, Orbán’s former friend and the financial brain behind Fidesz, talked about the prime minister’s alleged involvement in the state security apparatus in 1981-1982 when he spent a year between high school and university in the Hungarian Army.

Questions about Orbán’s past are not new. Already in 1991 János Kenedi, one of the top experts on the state security apparatus in Hungary, after examining the relevant documents, declared that Orbán, if anything, had been the victim of intelligence gathering and was innocent of any wrongdoing. That testimony, however, didn’t put an end to speculation. Here and there someone finds a piece of evidence that stirs up suspicion again. One such occasion was the discovery by László Varga, director of the Archives of the City of Budapest, that Viktor Orbán’s dossier, titled “Viktória,” whose existence was a known fact, “had disappeared.”

What has been disturbing all along is that Orbán refuses to say outright that he never, ever reported on anyone in his life. At the time of Simicska’s accusation in 2015, Hír24 asked him this question. Orbán’s answer was not a categorical denial. He said that “the facts speak for themselves. All information is available on the internet. I suggest that you study them.” Magyar Narancs, commenting on this statement, asked: “Why can’t the prime minister’s office or the press secretary or he himself put together a simple sentence: ‘Viktor Orbán was not an informer and never reported on anyone.’” A good question.

Now, two years later, Orbán still refuses to utter this simple sentence. At the moment, the release of informers’ names is again a matter of debate in the Hungarian parliament, and Gábor Vona used the occasion to inquire from Viktor Orbán about his possible involvement. “Mr. Prime Minister, I know that during your military service you were in contact with the secret service. I also know, Mr. Prime Minister, that there was a member of your family who during the 1956 revolution was working for ÁVH as an agent.” Orbán’s answer was almost identical to his earlier response to the same question. “All documents are available on the internet, study them.” That was not enough for Vona, who then asked: “Do you have the courage to declare that ‘I have never been an agent and I didn’t report on anyone either in writing or verbally?’ Do you dare to declare it?” Again, Orbán refused to affirm it in the first person singular. Instead, he said that “naturally I was on the other side, just as all of us here. We were on the other side; we were the ones who were persecuted; it was in our apartments that they planted listening devices; we didn’t cooperate with any kind of service.”

Gábor Vona questioning Viktor Orbán

Not only did Orbán refuse to answer these simple questions but he wasn’t really truthful about the ideological commitment of the leaders of Fidesz in the 1980s. In 1985 László Kövér imagined himself and his friends in Fidesz as the future leaders of the existing regime, that is, the socialist people’s republic under Kádár or perhaps, given Kádár’s age, some younger, more dynamic leader. The “college” where these boys and girls from the countryside received extra educational opportunities was created to be “a school for political leadership.”

As for all those Fidesz members sitting in the parliament, who according to Orbán “were on the other side,” that is also an exaggeration. Several important Fidesz politicians were actually members of MSZMP, the party established by János Kádár and others during the days of the October 56 revolution. Just to mention a few: János Martonyi, György Matolcsy, István Stumpf, Sándor Pintér, András Tállai, Béla Turi-Kovács, and Péter Harrach.

The younger members of Fidesz would obviously like to bury the sins of their elders. Only recently, in connection with the demand for the list of informers, János Lázár declared that they were only victims and therefore their identities should be shielded. The real culprits, he claimed, are the former members of MSZMP who “denied the freedom and self-determination of the Hungarian people.” They are the ones who are traitors and who should never have any role in political life. One would like to remind Lázár that in 1989 there were 800,000 party members in Hungary. Moreover, if Fidesz professes to have such a pristine past, it should get rid of those politicians on their side of the aisle who were not exactly on the “other side.”

Viktor Orbán answering Gábor Vona

After the Vona-Orbán encounter, speculation abounded that Vona might have received damaging information about Orbán from Lajos Simicska, especially since Simicska’s son Ádám just recently optimistically announced that Jobbik will win the 2018 election with a two-thirds majority. (At the moment Ádám Simicska’s prediction has a zero percent chance of materializing.) Vona in an interview on ATV denied that he has any new information, but he added that if he learns anything he will not hesitate to make it public.

According to people close to Simicska, he makes no secret of his plan to release “seriously compromising documents” on Orbán close to the election. He talks quite freely about the circumstances surrounding his break with Orbán and keeps repeating that “it is his obligation to do everything in his power to facilitate the overthrow of the prime minister.” According to Fidesz politicians, Orbán as well as the leading members of the party consider Simicska a serious antagonist who “has money to spend and nothing to lose.”

March 21, 2017

Viktor Orbán is accused of being an agent for Kádár’s security network

Hungary is buzzing with the news that broke around 6:00 p.m. Viktor Orbán may have been in the service of the Hungarian equivalent of Stasi, reporting on his friends and acquaintances to the feared ministry of interior. The man who revealed his long-kept secret was Lajos Simicska, whose not always legitimate commercial activities allowed Orbán to become the strong man of Hungary and who, over the course of the past year, fell out with the prime minister.

Mandiner got the scoop. The online paper had sent an sms to Simicska, asking him for a lengthier interview. Today the telephone rang. It was Simicska, saying that he was ready to give a shorter telephone interview right now and that he might be available for an in-depth interview sometime in the future.

He began the interview with his family’s story. Despite his working class background, he was considered to be the son of an enemy of the people. His father was active in one of the workers’ councils that mushroomed during the revolution and for some months afterwards. Simicska’s father was ruined, financially as well as physically, and therefore the whole family harbored a deep hatred of the regime. Lajos Simicska even refused to become a pioneer.

Although he was by all accounts a brilliant student, he was accepted to university only the third time around. Thus, although he was older than Orbán, they ended up in the same class at ELTE’s law school. But before they began their studies the two young men from Székesfehérvár had to serve a year in the army. There Simicska was called in by one of the top officers on the base, who had a heart-to-heart with the young man, who was by then 22 years old. On the officer’s desk was a thick folder full of reports about Simicska, going back to high school. The authorities seemed to know everything about him. Even what he said on a camping trip. The officer warned him to watch himself because his university studies might be in jeopardy.

Sample document from the Historical Archives of the State Security Office

Sample document from the Historical Archives of the State Security Office

Simicska knew some of the people who reported on him, while “there was one who came and told me himself: ‘Look, Lajos, this is the situation. I have to report on you.’ I told that person that I hold no rancor and I’m glad you told me. We will figure out together what to write. I guess you can figure out whom I’m taking about.” Yes, he was talking about Viktor Orbán.

When all the university-bound recruits were discharged from the army, they waited in the cafeteria, already in civilian clothes, for trains to take them home. Orbán was pulled out from the group. The young men headed for Székesfehérvár actually boarded the train and Orbán was still nowhere. Once they arrived home, they decided to have a party. Orbán unexpectedly showed up and, when Simicska asked him where he had been, Orbán told him that “they wanted him to sign an agreement to report but that he said no.” Simicska said that he didn’t doubt Orbán’s veracity for thirty years. When the reporter asked whether he still believes him, Simicska’s answer was “By now, I don’t know what to think.”

It is noteworthy that the thick folder Simicska saw on the officer’s desk, as well as subsequent reports on Simicska, seem to have disappeared from the archives of the ministry of interior. When Simicska asked for the reports written about him, he was told there were none. I should mention that in 1998 Viktor Orbán put his friend, László Kövér, into a relatively unimportant position in his government. He became minister without portfolio in charge of the secret services, past and present, and thus had access to the archives of the internal spy network. He served in this capacity for only two years, until 2000, when he became the chairman of Fidesz. Some people suspected that Kövér’s duties included cleansing the files of the archives of the domestic spy network of any material that might implicate members of the Fidesz leadership.

Simicska thinks that although many files are missing in Budapest, all the files are available in Moscow. I don’t know why Simicska is so confident that everything recorded in Hungary was automatically sent to Moscow. But, based on this assumption, Simicska believes that Vladimir Putin is fully aware of Viktor Orbán’s secret agent activities and that the Russian president thus has a powerful weapon at his disposal. As Simicska put it, “if these documents exist [in Moscow], they would surely upset the apple cart at home.” It was Orbán’s turn to Russia that made Simicska suspicious.

Mandiner naturally asked the prime minister’s office for a response. The office released a letter written by Viktor Orbán in 2012 to Ágnes Vadai, who asked about his possible involvement with the Kádár era’s secret service. In it, he denied any connection and released a number of documents, from which we learn that it was actually he and his wife who were the objects of scrutiny of the communist government. Of the many documents only one, from August 1987, has any relevance to his possible involvement with the secret service. In it there is a single sentence about his 1982 encounter with the secret service. But this sentence doesn’t refer to the meeting between an officer of the secret service and Viktor Orbán that he told Simicska about. It simply says that “the III/III-2 Department of the Ministry of Interior studied Dr. Orbán in 1982 with the object of signing him on, but they decided against it.” I might add that the attached documents are not facsimile copies of the original typed reports.