The stunning implosion of a Hungarian oligarch

It’s been an absolutely astonishing day in the world of Hungarian politics; after all, it rarely happens, that the country’s wealthiest businessman and a close friend of nearly 35 years of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is humiliated in public, and then goes on a whirlwind expletive-laden media tour, in which he repeatedly calls Mr. Orbán a prick and claims that his former Fidesz and Christian Democratic allies may try to have him murdered. Clearly, Lajos Simicska had a perfectly public meltdown, after the editor-in-chief at the Magyar Nemzet daily resigned and then decided to take the paper’s entire senior management with him. The roller coaster events were sparked by Mr. Simicska’s comment in the opposition-friendly Népszava newspaper, in which he noted that his media empire would actively oppose and speak up against Mr. Orbán’s policies, especially those concerning a new media tax. He apparently also toyed with the idea of a 180 degree turn at Magyar Nemzet and noted that it should become like Népszava in tone.

Lajos Simicska

Lajos Simicska

Mr. Simicska learned about the fact that the country’s second largest daily, and the jewel in his media empire, no longer had a senior management from the press, since Gábor Liszkay, the former editor-in-chief, organized a coup against him, convincing two assistant editors, the editor-in-chief of Lánchíd Rádió and the CEO of HírTV to also stab their employer in the back.

The shady Fidesz oligarch who had a highly suspect stint at the head of the Hungarian tax agency under the first Orbán government and who has evaded the media ever since, went on a wild media circuit this morning, calling Mr. Orbán every name in the book.

Orbán is a prick. And make sure that you write this down,” Simicska instructed a journalist from the Hír24 news site. He then said that it was now all out war with the Orbán government and that in a war, someone will die. The journalist asked if he meant this literally.

“Of course! Naturally! They can kill me, they can shoot me or a car might run me over. I too can be shot. Go ahead and publish this,” added Mr. Simicska.

Mr. Simicska also spoke with Index and told them that he has been put into a “crappy situation.” He then added: “I will go into the paper’s offices and I will fu****” fire everyone!” Following this, he once again called Mr. Orbán a prick.

The next stop was the Átlátszó news site, which focuses on uncovering the corruption of the Orbán regime (of which Mr. Simicska’s business empire has been an important pillar). “The Orbán government basically wants to destroy the country’s independent media. But naturally, our media will resist these efforts and we will fu**** sh** on whatever Orbán wants,” Mr. Simicska remarked.

“These men have betrayed me…I found out from the media that the entire management has left me, and I was left thinking about what the hell had just transpired,” noted Mr. Simicska in his most coherent interview of the day, which he gave to the liberal Magyar Narancs magazine. Mr. Simicska explained that Mr. Liszkay agreed to sell his stake in the Magyar Nemzet after the coup, but when Magyar Narancs asked about the details, Mr. Simicska had to ask a colleague who was close to the telephone about which of his many companies actually took over the shares from the former editor. It turns out it was a firm called Pro Aurum Zrt, which paid Mr. Liszkay around 100 million forints for his shares.

When asked about how much of this firm he actually controls, Mr. Simicska anwered: “Don’t ask stupid questions, I don’t know that by heart. I have an expansive empire with many varied interests!”

Mr. Simicska noted that he considers Zsolt Nyerges to be a completely loyal business partner of his. Much of the Hungarian media speculates that Mr. Orbán and his adviser, Árpád Habony are behind what appears to be an orchestrated attack against a former business ally, who fell out of favour after he began opposing the government’s plans for a media tax and especially after a government deal with RTL Klub this week meant that Mr. Simicska’s media empire might see its tax burden increase five-fold.

Mr. Simicska’s main pro-Orbán rival in the world of Fidesz oligarchs is Gábor Széles, the owner of the Magyar Hírlap daily and EchoTV. Mr. Széles lost no time in condemning Mr. Simicska today in public and in insinuating that his career was finished.

“Mr. Simicska is dangerous to nobody, but to himself,” Mr. Széles observed and then predicted that Magyar Nemzet and HírTV would collapse, with most journalists likely transferring over to the taxpayer-funded public television station, M1, which as of late has become more partisan and propagandistic than any major media outlet in Hungary.

In fact, it is worth noting that Mr. Orbán’s inner circle has floated the idea of pulling much needed government advertising forints from HírTV and Magyar Nemzet in favour of M1 and to the public broadcasting sector in general. This, even at the time, was seen as a clear attack against Mr. Simicska.

Mr. Orbán may have pacified RTL Klub, but it looks like he may have also awakened a lion within his own camp. The question is whether the likes of Mr. Habony are now able to put the fear of God into Mr. Simicska over the next few days, in order to dissuade him from his plans to go after the prime minister.

8 Comments

  1. Gyula Bognar, Jr. says:

    Chris, you are right. Smacks had a “personality” melt-down. I don’t really know what his personality was before, but intelligent people, especially shrewd businessmen, when composed, don’t say and act as he did in the last 48 hours the way he did.
    In my opinion, it would have been a better idea to stay quiet and in the next few weeks publish facts about the Orban family and the Fidesz gangsters (they call themselves the Government) corruptions and secret deals and deeds.
    One does not set his gunpowder on fire without putting in in a cannon filling it with grape shots and aiming it directly against his enemy.

  2. Gyula Bognar, Jr. says:

    M spell checker corrected “Simicska” to be “Smacks” Please excuse my error.

  3. SQUALOR AMONG THIEVES

    What is striking is what low-lifes both Orban and his foes (and former school buddies) like Simicska really are. And they are dragging the whole country down with them — enough of the populace along for the ride willingly to furnish Orban with an on-paper 2/3 majority twice in a row, enough to make a shambles of the Constitution and the rule of law. It is embarrassing. It is sinister. And how much worse will it have to get before the populace finally decides to rid itself of the whole shameful lot?

    • But your field is psychology, not mine, I don’t really know but I have never seen any populace deciding any mindful thing on their own. They think and do what they are programmed for. And they don’t have the ability to deprogram themselves on their own. They gonna be reset, should there be anybody wanting to do such a thing. That needs money, power and motivation. Who would pay the bill? When it’s getting worse they will just die. The rich will not need to be get rid of, they escape after looting their people and resume their control from their bug out locations just by replacing the bankers and PMs. The rest will be killed .

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/panicked-super-rich-buying-boltholes-5044084

      • CARPATHIAN ETHNOGRAPHY

        I don’t think people need to be de-programmed in order to vote out a government. They just need to know where to place (or not to place) an X.

        In Hungary, Orban controls almost all the programming media, the economy, the constitution, the parliament’s daily make-a-laws, the military, the police, the attorney-general (a Poltical [sic] appointee), the President, the ombudsman, and most (but not all) of the judges; and of course all the high crime franchise.

        His biggest ally in staying in power, however, is none of the above, but the Hungarian popular self-image, transmitted through word-of-mouth and example from generation to generation: a mix of self-pity, self-aggrandisement, and visceral resentments and recriminations against one and all (including fellow-Hungarians).

        That is not “programming” (at least not by Orban). It’s called *culture* (or lack thereof). And it’s so firmly rooted in enough Hungarians that it is still there, in full bloom, in a strikingly large proportion of even the expat community that has been living in the free-thinking world for decades, or even lifelong.

        And Orban is not another one of the Carpathian “geniuses.” He just lacks all scruples, so does not hesitate to play on this entrenched (and odious) cultural quirk of his (willing) audience.

        Simicska is every bit as much of a scum as Orban. But maybe a vile (or violent) rumble among the capi will — per impossibile — rattle the culture too, this time.

        (Apart from that, both dons seem to have a goodly dose of psychopathology. Looks like some sort of personality disorder with paranoid features in Orban; Simicska has kept too low a profile to confirm whether he too is a vindictive control freak with delusions of grandeur or just an alcoholic capo with far too much loot and pull, answerable to no one. But I’m not a clinician…)

        • Nice and truly realistic characterization, sadly it’s true. I could never word it like that but I do second it.
          Thanks for putting it, was good to read and thanks for your reply.

          As for these two guys the only baffling thing for me that seeing Orban, couldn’t diagnose though, I can’t imagine this guy can think at all. I mean he’s just reacting, but he can do that really fast. That’s why I call him a reptile. Not like David Icke put it but all his character, manner, and speed of his reactions resemble a snake or an alligator. That’s what them reptiles do, they cannot be tamed, they cannot socialize, they have no emotions, they don’t think, just react. May be that’s why he is always looking for confrontation, just to find something to react to, the only way for him to stay active. Looks like an instinct being. All things are happening before my eyes, everything is clear or at least should be, and I still look at it as an illusion and ask myself, “is this Orban” who does the whole thing for him? How does it works for him, is that really him or is he just a glove puppet? Whose hand is in the game? The old question that is haunting me. I thought finding the answer might tell us how long he can stay in power. Will fight tooth and nail, though.

          Anyway, it looks to me that the air balloon has a load of too heavy and Orban is inevitably preparing to keep the money in and ease the flight by throwing out people, old friends too if necessary.

          BTW, “..or just an alcoholic capo..” can be a capo, — possibly — but I think it’s drug not alcohol and some poor quality that caused so much damage to their brain and personality.

  4. Does Habony really want to put a fear into Simicska, or foully encourage him into fight by irritating him further on? Wouldn’t he rather want to see the two cutting each other’s throat?

    Is this Habony alone? Who stands behind the selfmade man who doesn’t even have any official contract with Orban and works for him as an self styled independent adviser. Who is behind him, who does he work for?

    What a nice timing for steering a storm and setting the two bully on each other between Merkel and Putin visit to Hungary. Who engineered the whole mess?

  5. steering = stirring

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