Tag Archives: László Varga

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

Reverberations after Lajos Simicska’s revelations about Viktor Orbán

Lajos Simicska’s revelations about Viktor Orbán’s alleged involvement in the state security apparatus in 1981-1982 have given rise to accusations and counterclaims. And all the larger papers have published timelines of the allegations that surfaced here and there about Viktor Orbán’s possible informer past.

The controversy began in 1991 when a dossier surfaced at the Military Security Office (Katonai Biztonsági Hivatal), which handled the leftover documents from the ministry of interior’s III/IV Military Counterintelligence Unit. At the time the Antall government asked János Kenedi, one of the top experts on the state security apparatus in Hungary, to investigate the contents of the folder. Kenedi came to the conclusion that Viktor Orbán had been a victim of intelligence gathering and was innocent of any wrongdoing.

There are others, however, who claim that there were documents indicating that the young Orbán wasn’t so innocent. Lukács Szabó, who was an MDF member of parliament between 1990 and 1994, claimed in 2002 that Prime Minister József Antall at one of the meetings of the parliamentary delegation indicated that the government had found “proof of wrongdoing in Orbán’s past.” Apparently, Antall repeated this statement to several MDF members of parliament. In addition, one of Antall’s undersecretaries in charge of the spy network confirmed the charge.

Then we have Péter Boross’s latest statement, which he gave to Pesti Srácok, described as a government financed internet site. Boross was an old friend of József Antall, who named him minister without portfolio in charge of the National Security Office and, a few months later, in December 1990, minister of the interior. Boross now claims that he “asked for all possible documents relating to Viktor Orbán, and from these documents it became clear that although he was approached by the officers of the ministry of interior he refused any cooperation with them.” Boross claims that he can prove Orbán’s innocence.

In 2005 an ad hoc parliamentary committee was formed to look into the financial affairs of the Orbán family. This was when Orbán bought a very expensive house in an elegant section of Buda, into which he poured an untold amount of money to make it suitable for the large family’s needs. About the same time he began building his weekend house in Felcsút. Orbán came well prepared, and I must say that I was somewhat taken aback by the incompetence of the co-chairmen of the committee. In any case Orbán, without being asked, released a number of documents relating to his alleged ties to the state security organizations. For a while these documents were available on the orbanvictor.hu website under the heading “Valóság” (Reality). In 2012, when Ágnes Vadai inquired about his possible ties to the state security apparatus, he republished some but not all of the documents that had been available earlier. One of the documents not released in 2012 was titled “Suggestions for the creation of social connection” and contained personal information about Viktor Orbán. According to the document, the “connection” began on October 20, 1981, shortly after Orbán began his military duties, and ended on August 20 when he “was discharged.” This would indicate that Lajos Simicska told the truth about Orbán’s reporting on his fellow soldiers during his time in the military.

Also in 2005 a retired colonel, Miklós Mózes, told Fejér Megyei Hírlap that “he had sat down a couple times for exploratory talks with [Orbán], but it soon became evident that he might be useful for several jobs but not for secret work with the state security organizations.” Mózes, however, said something else of interest. It happened that Orbán was called up for military service again a year after he finished law school. Orbán apparently “by mistake” was sent to Tata instead of Zalaegerszeg where, as Mózes reported, the KGB was interested in the young lawyer and asked Mózes to facilitate his transfer to Zalaegerszeg. It is not impossible that by that time the Russians had become interested in the new young politicians who might have important positions after the demise of the Kádár regime.

And now let’s move on to research conducted on informers by Csaba Ilkei, a historian whose sympathies lie with Jobbik. One of the documents that was not republished by Viktor Orbán in 2012 was a note in his own hand that is reproduced here.

Handwritten note

István Csáki was a major in the ministry of interior’s III/IV unit. “Temesvári” was the pseudonym of an informer who, according to Ilkei, was Zsolt Szeszák, at the time a student at ELTE’s Faculty of Arts but here only identified as “Fidesz insider.” “Győri Gábor” was also an agent who was presumably, as indicated by the arrow, in some way connected to László Kövér. What Ilkei wanted to know was how Orbán could know Csáki or the pseudonym of Szeszák.

And there are other gaps in the story. László Varga, the historian of the state security network, did not find Viktor Orbán’s dossier named “Viktória.” It disappeared.

And finally, why doesn’t Viktor Orbán say outright that he never, ever reported on anyone in his life? Yesterday Orbán was asked by Hír24 about the “informer case” and he even answered, which is an exception to the rule. This is what he said: “The facts speak for themselves. All information is available. I suggest that you study them. I find it sad that someone out of personal resentment would sink this low.” Magyar Narancs, commenting on this statement, noted that “although it is difficult to believe anything Lajos Simicska says, the question is lurking in the back of our minds: 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.” Indeed, this is a legitimate question.

A statue of Viktor Orbán is toppled

I was sorely tempted to title this post “Viktor Orbán is toppled,” perhaps with a couple of exclamation points, but I couldn’t come up with a decent qualifying subtitle. Péter Kónya, the leader of the Solidarity Movement, now part of Együtt 2014-PM, would probably have appreciated the title. Others in the opposition no doubt would have considered it tasteless.

Péter Kónya likes to use unusual props to dramatize his movement’s political positions. Perhaps you recall Solidarity’s demonstration, which became known as the “revolution of the clowns.” Participants dressed up as clowns because Viktor Orbán called the trade unions’ leaders clowns. The clowns collected thousands and thousands of signatures to condemn the Orbán government. And that was back in 2011.

At yesterday afternoon’s demonstration Kónya once again sent a symbolic message. The group had erected a huge statue of Viktor Orbán made out of Styrofoam and painted bronze. At their demonstration they first unveiled and then toppled it. Very much like Stalin’s enormous statue was toppled on October 23, 1956.

Prior to the unveiling of the statue Gordon Bajnai made a fiery speech in which he called the politicians of Fidesz “the best pupils of the communists.” He was even funny at times, although he is not known for his humor. He said, “I’m warning you now: the stadium at Felcsút will not fit into the Park of Statues.” The park he was referring to houses the statues erected during the Rákosi and Kádár periods that were subsequent discarded.

Once the statue was toppled and its head severed as a result of the fall, Péter Kónya called Orbán a dictator who should have a separate room in the House of Terror. In no time the crowd moved the head and torso of the statue to Andrássy út 60 with a detour to the Opera House to mark the demise of the Third Republic on January 1, 2012. Kónya and Bajnai promised the crowd that soon there will be an end to the rule of the comrades, reminding them of the famous poster of MDF: Tovarishi konets, Comrades, this is the end.

One of the first articles to appear about the demonstration and the statue was written by a Magyar Narancs reporter. He admitted that some members of the intelligentsia might think that this kind of campaigning is crude, but the people he talked think that “the population must be awakened.”

The blogger Varánusz was of the same opinion: “What will happen now that some people will play football with Viktor Orbán’s Styrofoam head?” And he continued that the terribly boring leaders of the Bajnai party at last did something a little daring. He noted, however, that some of the people on the left called the statue toppling “tasteless.” And then he lists a few truly “tasteless” Fidesz stunts of late.

Orban feje

Then came the counterattack. The spokesman of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) was László Varga, the man who not so long ago thought that if women bore more children there would be no domestic violence. He called this gag a crime that can be compared only to the activities of Tibor Szamuelly’s terrorist group in 1919 or the horrors that were perpetrated by the ÁVH, the state security forces during the Rákosi regime.  For good measure he reminded his audience of the horrors of the Hungarist Arrowcross who shot thousands of innocent men and women and threw their bodies into the Danube in late 1944. He considered the incident “an incitement to murder.” Varga didn’t think that Bajnai could sink that low.

Yes, Gordon Bajnai certainly knew about the planned toppling of the statue. He delivered his speech against the Orbán government standing in front of that statue, then still covered. He admitted that these kinds of gags are not to his liking but added that “we must recognize that the rule of Viktor Orbán fanned such intense anger” that such a reaction is not surprising. He considered the erecting of the statue in this case an ironic gesture because it is only in dictatorships that statues of living politicians are erected. “Viktor Orbán’s regime is rapidly moving in this direction. The toppling of the statue only expressed opposition to Orbán’s plans for the future.” The pro-Fidesz Századvég’s Tamás Lánczi immediately commented that Bajnai’s radicalism will alienate the “center.” That mysterious “center” that nobody seems able to find.

One can understand the right’s indignation. Less comprehensible is the distancing that came from the left, especially from MSZP, the ally of Együtt 2014-PM. Péter Kónya, we must remember, is one of the chairmen of E14-PM. József Tóbiás, director of the MSZP delegation, immediately condemned the action. In a democracy, he said, one doesn’t overthrow a government; it must be replaced. This was, of course, an extreme interpretation of Solidarity’s action. Nobody, including Kónya, was talking about the actual overthrow of the government. The statue was intended as a symbol of Orbán’s regime that indeed must be eliminated. Gábor Fodor of the Liberals and Andor Schmuck of the shadowy Hungarian Social Democratic Party immediately joined Tóbiás. Ágnes Vadai (DK) got out of a sticky situation by saying that the Demokratikus Koalíció doesn’t want to demolish a statue but to defeat the Orbán regime.

Hungarians used to be known for their humor. They used to relish political symbolism. Now, it seems, some on the left are so concerned with appearing politically correct that they can’t enjoy a piece of political theater (and, in the process, stand behind one of their own). They’d better learn, and learn quickly, that it’s hard to tip-toe to victory.