Journalists associated with some of Hungary largest publications, including hvg.hu, index.hu and Népszabadság, were banned for an indefinite period of time from Parliament, after they videotaped Fidesz and Christian Democratic politicians in the hallway, peppering them with questions about one of the worst corruption scandals in recent Hungarian political history. In one of the videos, a completely silent and clearly uncomfortable László Kövér, the aggressive and authoritarian Fidesz party Speaker of Parliament, was asked a barrage of questions by journalists with video cameras, as he walked down the corridor. The following morning, Mr. Kövér’s office indicated that several journalists were barred from reporting in Parliament, ostensibly because they had contravened a decree dating back to 2013, which prohibits filming in certain areas of the building.
“Despite multiple warnings from the representatives of the Press Office, the journalist continued with his activities and refused to leave the area,” noted Mr. Kövér’s office of Norbert Fekete, a reporter affiliated with the hvg.hu news site. Journalists from index.hu were also barred for the same reason, but the site noted that the area that the Press Office requested that the media representatives remain in would have made it impossible for them to ask members of parliament questions about the shady dealings of the Governor of the Hungarian National Bank (MNB), György Matolcsy.
This is the ominous video that got Norbert Fekete barred from Parliament:
Friends of Mr. Matolcsy, and of Fidesz in general, were also beneficiaries of millions of dollars in public funds from foundations operated by the Central Bank. For instance, Lőrinc Mészáros–the Fidesz mayor of Prime Minister Orbán’s home town of Felcsút, who has inexplicably become one of the wealthiest people in Hungary–is affiliated with a company called Magyar Építő Zrt. This construction firm was awarded multiple contracts, totaling billions of forints. For instance, the company was provided with the equivalent of $4.5 million to oversee one such construction project.
The Hungarian National Bank, after being asked if Mr. Matolcsy planned to resign in the wake of the scandal, argued that it has no right to “influence the decision-making process surrounding specific grant applications.” As such, it is perhaps merely coincidental that billions of forints in public funds happened to land with relatives and friends of the governor. Mr. Matolcsy has no intention of resigning. Most Fidesz politicians, when asked about the scandal, either refused to respond to media queries, or suggested that nothing illegal had occurred, whilst leaving open the door to the suggestion that the activities of the Central Bank and its foundations were, at minimum, unethical.
The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), announced that it would be initiating a parliamentary investigation into how foundations affiliated with the Hungarian National Bank managed to effectively turn billions of forints in public funds into private monies that landed in the coffers of companies and businesses generally associated with Fidesz.
Ferenc Gyurcsány, Hungary’s former prime minister from 2004 to 2009, and leader of the centre-left Democratic Coalition (DK), noted in an ATV interview that he would have been “strung up on a lamp post for one tenth of what is happening now.”
“We simply have to declare that you, dear gentlemen, are criminals,” noted Mr. Gyurcsány.
One wonders when corruption on such a massive scale will finally wake many undecided Hungarians from their political slumber. But it is equally possible, that the sheer scale of the corruption in and around the Hungarian National Bank is so vast, that it is all but incomprehensible or perhaps overwhelming for the average Hungarian. Sometimes instances of petty corruption are more easily understandable and can be better contextualized. The widespread and systematic pillaging of public funds by the foundations of the Hungarian National Bank are far from petty–they are indicative of the criminal nature of the Fidesz regime.