Hungary is Russia’s new bastion in Europe

Zsuzsanna Szelényi is a foreign policy analyst and Member of Parliament affiliated with the centre-left Együtt (Together) Party. Ms. Szelényi argues that through Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s war against the West and Moscow’s highly effective use of 21st century hybrid warfare, Hungary is being turned into a colony of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  We are translating Ms. Szelényi’s insightful analysis from the original Hungarian, for the readers of the Hungarian Free Press.

“My dear noble compatriots: the cup is full. We no longer have any business here–let’s return to Asia. Maybe we’ll be given a little space, but hopefully far away from peoples who gravitate to Asian culture.”–Endre Ady

Viktor Orbán has not only gone against what he once stood for in terms of his domestic politics, but he has also apparently accepted author Endre Ady’s admonition: if the Hungarian elite is incapable of accepting European values, then perhaps it’s best if we return to Asia. Ever since 2010, Viktor Orbán’s elite wants to undo a century-long goal, which was reached twenty-five years ago, to see Hungary integrate more fully into the West. Mr. Orbán has taken on the role of a new Koppány, turning the country’s chariot around and making it face eastward.

The prime minister does not fancy Europe–he only fancies European funding, because it is on this that his regime feasts. But after 2020, transfers from the European Union to Hungary are likely to decrease, which means that Mr. Orbán must find a new sponsor. Rather than trying to help the Hungarian economy get back on its feet, Mr. Orbán’s gaze has come to rest on Moscow. President Vladimir Putin, however, does not think from the perspective of solidarity, as do our European partners. He provides funding only in exchange for political and economic services.

A vote for Russia

Viktor Orbán has found his ‘master’ and future sponsor in Mr. Putin’s regime and in his person. The former KGB specialist has correctly detected that Mr. Orbán’s greedy and slighted persona makes the Hungarian leader into a pawn, which he can move on Europe’s chess table, and through which he can exert influence over the decision-making bodies of the European Union and NATO. Gaining influence over a small state the size of Hungary isn’t much of a challenge, even amidst trying economic times. Yet Hungary’s strategic importance is well worth Russia’s efforts, especially in terms of the stationing of American rockets, the tearing up of Ukraine, energy-based blackmail or atomic energy. Hungary can become a fulcrum of Russian expansion. As such, it’s worth their while to buy off the Hungarian government.

Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin.

Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin.

Hungary is a battleground in Russia’s hybrid war

There are examples in Hungarian history, where Hungarian foreign affairs served Moscow, such as during the decades of Soviet occupation. And, of course, even in 1849, there were some “Muscovites,” who served as mercenaries and helped to suppress the War of Independence. Today, there is no longer any Russian occupation in Hungary. As such, different tools are needed, namely: hybrid warfare, television and internet-based propaganda and, of course, money. Fidesz’s greedy and easily slighted leaders are voluntarily walking over to the wrong side.

During his decade-and-a-half rule, President Putin has revived the principle of Russian expansion. With a clear goal in mind, he is bombarding Europe with the methods of 21st century hybrid warfare. Europe is reacting slowly to the threat. Europe’s slow decision-making is making it vulnerable to Russia, just as the treason of some EU member states is doing the same.

With the rise to power of the former KGB hardcore in the year 2000, the activities of Russian state security in Central Europe have intensified. Ever since the occupation of Eastern Ukraine, Russia is conducting ever deeper propaganda and espionage in Hungary. The tools of propaganda in the 21st century are not flyers and posters, but rather electronic and social media. Hundreds of new websites, often linked and shared on fake Facebook profiles, are connected to Russia. These includes sites such as hidfo.ru or the orientalista.hu site. Additionally, hundreds of internet commentators, responding to online articles, are based on fake profiles originating in Russia. The Hungarian VS.hu website has uncovered over 100 websites, which list no editors or contributors, that are being run off of Russian servers. The goal of these websites is to destabilize Hungary and to spread aggressive pro-Putin propaganda, as well as disinformation. One must assume that a great amount of money is being poured into these efforts. And Putinist propaganda is being spread endlessly. It would appear as though the Government of Hungary is not making any effort to halt the forward march of Russia’s dictator. Even more disconcerting is the fact that while in neighbouring countries, Russian agents are being revealed on a regular basis, nobody ever seems to be uncovered in Hungary. Even the Jobbik-affiliated Béla Kovács and his connection to Russian state security was only revealed  through Western help.

Putin’s main export is bribery

Russia is exporting a massive amount of money to Europe. The fuel that keeps Viktor Orbán’s propaganda machine running also comes from Russia. The awfully expensive, irrational and terribly risky investment in the atomic plant at Paks is the clearest example of how the Hungarian government has been bought off. While in Western Europe the reliance on nuclear energy plants is being gradually decreased, Viktor Orbán is making Hungary beholden to Russia and is rendering the country increasingly reliant on Moscow, through the secretive deal in Paks and the use of dated Russian technology.

The energy company MET Zrt., affiliated with Mr. Orbán’s friend, István Garancsi, has cemented its ties to Russia. In this agreement, Hungarian and Russia oligarchs have together tapped into profits from the energy sector, amounting to tens of billions of forints. Even the tender put out to modernize the Budapest metro is suspicious. The government decided to accept the Russian offer, even though it was more expensive than that put forward by the Estonians. In Hungary, a ministerial commissioner who once ran a prostitution ring in Moscow, is now involved in agrarian policy development in Hungary and has a joint company with Lőrinc Mészáros, the prime minister’s stooge.  It is true that an investigation has been launched into the activities of Szilárd Kiss, but we have not heard of any developments in over a year. This is yet another indication of just how vulnerable Hungary has become, within the expanding Russian sphere of influence.

Of course, it is entirely possible to do business with Russia. But not in secret. Corrupt business dealings, which is in the interest of government adventure-seekers, may help them personally, but it is effectively holding Hungary hostage.

The Government of Hungary in Moscow’s net

There is still much lack of clarity around the spy-scandal surrounding Jobbik politician, Béla Kovács. The State Prosecutor’s Office, working under the supervision of the government, is silent. In addition, on the airwaves of Hungarian state media, completely uncritical Russian propaganda is flowing from  so-called national security experts, some of whom have a known past as informants (László Földi), or are suspected of possibly having been an informant (György Nógrádi).

As a result of this, in the past few weeks, I have twice addressed János Lázár in Parliament with questions, asking specifically what the government was doing to offer protection against the influence and activities of Russian state security. Mr. Lázár offered no response. It appears as though the Government of Hungary does not want to halt Mr. Putin’s espionage activities in Hungary. As a result, Mr. Orbán is contributing to the dismantling of Europe.

Zsuzsanna Szelényi in Parliament.

Zsuzsanna Szelényi in Parliament.

While Mr. Orbán is preaching about the war of independence against the West, Russia is turning Hungary into a colony.

The Orbán government is likely receiving significant bribes from Russia, which maintain the prime minister’s power. All the while, we Hungarians have much to lose. I am convinced that Hungarians are not supportive of these types of policies. We want to continue to belong to the European Union and to the Western sphere of influence.

Russian propaganda and the export of corruption is destroying the community of shared values that is at the foundation of Europe. The Orbán government is the bastion of this shameful war. The enormous amount of bribe money is opening the way for Russia’s ambitions here in Hungary, in the heart of Europe. It’s time to pull Hungary back to where Hungarians want to belong, namely to Europe, among our real allies.

Zsuzsanna Szelényi

(Translated from Hungarian by: Christopher Adam)

25 Comments

  1. Charlie London says:

    Interesting article – but opposition in ‘Parliament’ is an impotent endeavour.

    (Chris – your first sentence should use the verb ‘gone’ instead of ‘went’ to do the translation justice. Feel free to delete this post if you wish!)

    • Christopher Adam says:

      Thanks, Charlie. Good point. I always try to review these translations a couple of times, but today there were far too many distractions as I typed this up.

  2. Viktor Orbán is Putin’s fifth column in the European Union. Congratulations to Zs. Szelényi for this article, which I also read in the original Hungarian on hvg.hu after reading this translation. Thanks for raising my attention to it.

  3. András B. Göllner says:

    Of course Szelényi is right. But the case has been made by many before her – e.g. by Donald N. Jensen, of the Institute of Modern Russia, or by Princeton’s Jan Werner Müller. Putin’s utter dependence on the top echelons of the former KGB to silence dissent (eg the Nemtsov murder, and those of Anna Politkovskaya, along with dozens of other journalists) and his utterly corrupt system of governance, as ably portrayed by Karen Dawisha, or by the film Leviathan, is the template to emulate for Orbán. All this has been well documented in Hungary by Bálint Magyar. Hungary is a carbon copy of the Russian mafia state, and the European Union is apparently not only unable to reign it in, but is footing most of the bill. Over 90% of Hungary’s economic development budget is funded by EU taxpayers. America is getting closer to electing a new President, Donald Trump, who has already gone on record praising Mr Putin as a trend setter, and a man he can do business with. With a bit of luck, and some help by the always loyal American-Hungarian lobby, Viktor Orbán may by in the front row at Trump’s inauguration, and a Trump Tower may soon grace Vörösmarty square in downtown Budapest. Canada has a Liberal government. It too is strangely silent about Orbán’s self proclaimed project to build an “illiberal”state inside the trans-Atlantic community. Politics does make for strange bedfellows. And meanwhile, back in the oasis….. ?

  4. Robert Szucs says:

    America is getting closer to electing a new President, Donald Trump, who has already gone on record praising Mr Putin as a trend setter, and a man he can do business with. With a bit of luck, and some help by the always loyal American-Hungarian lobby, Viktor Orbán may by in the front row at Trump’s inauguration, and a Trump Tower may soon grace Vörösmarty square in downtown Budapest.—-I don’t see nothing wrong with that.

    • @robert szucs thinks greedy Porky can do business with the Russian bear.

      You can just as well loosen your belt and bend over for this business, i.e. Orban or rather Hungary are going to be crewed buying the dated reactors

  5. Szelényi is naiv and totally disconnected from reality. No sane minister in any country will discuss or comment counter-espionage or strategic international deals in public. Even less will they disclose details, no matter how many parliamentary questions Szelényi submits.

  6. Now, we talk english? Russia is a world power, possessing the biggest teritory on the Earth! because some western idiots wants that territory without the people who owns it, now is a stupid debate about the right to exist of the russians…the liberty and some other “words” dictate everybody on Earth has the right to exist and as the way as one wants to exist!!!
    the russian occupied much less territory unlawfully than the western counterpart

    discussion ends at that point, leave them alone (at least)

  7. Shame on Hungary after more than 60 years,( 1956) we go back the past and be loyal for a russian dictator, who doesnt care about human rights, and other independent country border. Im sure in Putin hand some important information who is agent and spy before 1989, a lot of prominent fidesz politican.

  8. András B. Göllner says:

    I see the rodeo troll has arrived on piggy-back 🙂 Szucs, sucks. Drew, drew the wrong conclusions. Rodeo36 was a long time ago. All that we’re missing is the national Aspirin, Bayer and theEasy Rider, the national horseman, Lovas, and we could start a small bio-farm with all the horse-manure. I see Lovas is not a fan of the HFP, and considers this paper as merely an organ of irate philo-Semites, who can’t do anything else with their time but fabricate stories about anti-Semitism in Hungary. (see: http://lovasistvan.hu/2016/05/10/faymann-ex-kancellar-most-zsiros-allasra-palyazik-brusszelben-az-ilyen-sodorja-sirjaba-az-eu-t-dwn/)
    A few years ago, the Easy Rider declared that all critics of Orbán are left-wing Jews, “all you have to do is look at their dirty names”. What prompted his outburst against Szelényi’s article in the HFP, which has nothing to say about anti-Semitism in Hungary, is a mystery to me. It seems, that he has a bit of unfinished business from his days at McGill decades ago, that keeps drawing his attention to these far away shores. Wonder what it is 🙂 I’m sure Chris Adam would give the Easy Rider an opportunity to clear his conscience, to get a load off his manly chest.

  9. Na, húzzatok a vérbe! Kanadai multikultis, filoszemita majmok. Európa változik. Tegnap Magyarország, ma Lengyelország, holnap Ausztria. Viszlát liberális idióták!

    • Christopher Adam says:

      Dear Magyar,

      This is an English-language website. I suggest that you write comments in English (and avoid anti-Semitic slurs, as well). If you need to brush up on your English skills, please contact István Lovas, who I’m sure would be pleased to help you.

  10. @András B. Göllner
    I’m fully surprised to be troll about crying out, THAN everybody has its right to exist and by the way as it wants to exist, AND NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL TO IT HOW TO DO IT… or is there any superior power to dictate the only way?

  11. @András B. Göllner

    I have no relation to the two you mentioned…it is not funny!!! by your expert knowledge what was the real cause of the Trojan war, Odysseus, Jazón, Crusaders, Conquistadors as: Magalhaes, Colombus, and other conquists of African and South (North???) American countries, the nigros ate bananas? or they did not recognise Christianity? (did not know the existence of that) by the way Jesús is not Christian it was invented long time later than his compatriots sent him to the roman gallows? and after all the two WW and the war since the end of the second?

  12. András B. Göllner says:

    @Rodeo36

    “Is there any superior power to dictate the only way?”

    Why you asking me Rodeo ? Why not ask “Magyar”, who just called us all a bunch of Jew-loving monkeys ?

    But hey, I want to help you, so here you go. According to “Magyar” and his leader, Orbán, there IS “a superior power to dictate the only way”. His name is God ! (A bit of history, just so you know. First there was the Word – and the Word was God) Orbán put God into the new Magyar constitution and made Him the architect of Magyar history.

    What I want to know from YOU Rodeo36 is this. If God is the architect of Magyar history, what was His purpose in unleashing the Tatars, the Turks, the Austrians, the Germans and the Russians on the Magyars ? Why did He DO those nasty things ?

    One thing is for sure: The Magyar God is not the Muslim God or the Hindu one. It’s not the same God as the Jewish God either – the latter, according to the Jews did NOT have a son called Jesus and knows nothing about Joseph and Mary. The Canadian indigenous people also worship a different God than the Magyars. Not to mention, before they came into Central Europe, even the Magyars worshiped a different God, than the one they worship now. But let’s not quibble about these details, Enough said. Let’s try to stay focused on the message of this article by Zsuzsa Szelény. OK, Rodeo36 ?

  13. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Rodeo36

    I already answered one irrelevant question from you – Mr Adam is not God, but he WILL be upset with us if we keep straying into territories that have nothing to do with the subject matter. Why dwell on the causes of the Trojan war now ? By the way, you misspelled Negro. They did not only eat bananas. They were hunters and gatherers and loved nuts. You’d loved them too if you only calmed down a bit.

  14. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Magyar (With permission Mr Adam, as my salute to the “Magyar” language)

    “Tegnap Magyarország, ma Lengyelország, holnap Ausztria. Viszlát liberális idióták!”

    “Tegnapelőtt ő osztotta a levest, tegnap én osztottam, ossza ma Bin Láden. Visz lát Magyar idióták!”

  15. @András B. Göllner

    Ilived (long time) with african people in Africa, I do not need lecture about them from anyone! God is something some drunk idiots invented and since than is interpreted as it is (I have no the faintest idea what is that “it”)

    I just wanted to know whether you (as you attacked me) recognize Beautiful Helen as the Trojan war’s cause (By Offenbach + Kan Kan) or you have other idea about II:WW other than fascism? LOL
    McGill has a discipline as this?

  16. @András b: Göllner
    nesze (a négerek aszon’ták sohase add fel)

  17. @observer
    who r u to define which is sense and which is non??? otherwise your “comment” does not make any sense as you did not reflect my lines as: nobody has the right to tell anybody which way the one should live, it is everyone’s own decision… did you want to tell anything at all?

  18. @ms.szelényi (to the article)
    “There are examples in Hungarian history, where Hungarian foreign affairs served Moscow, such as during the decades of Soviet occupation. And, of course, even in 1849, there were some “Muscovites,” who served as mercenaries and helped to suppress the War of Independence.”

    the soviet occupation was a gift from the winners of the second world war mainly US, GBR, France with the accordance of Stalin who wanted his share from the sacrifice his country made (the biggest among all) the war of independence was a typical hungarian style cryout without doing too much, and no hungarian called the russian help in but austria which needed badly that territory and its slaves

    dear szelényi better not to distort history by telling the truth and nothing else but truth… the article is personal false flag and is not against Orban infamous regime, but the trend to screw up russia because it wants to exist and it defends its right for that, the west has no politycal agenda other than take over the land as they did in Iraq, Lybia, and now in Syria, Afganistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan (south and north sudan is made up by the west) NOTHING ELSE JUST THE NEW WAY OF COLONIALIZATION as none of the earlier similar wars (Troja was not attacked for Helen the Beautiful as Offenbach history lesson with Kan Kan tought) but eliminate the power of the trojans and establish Agamemnon’s rule with his temporary allies… do not be so stupidly ridiculous, please

    • @rodeo
      You asked me “who r u to define which is sense and which is non?”
      But tell Ms Szelenyi to “not be so stupidly ridiculous”

      Anyway, either you can’t express yourself well in English or there isn’t much to express.

      Сейчас понятно?

  19. @observer

    @ other times observe much better, u make no sense: if u do not want to understand something, the failure is not in the party u observe, but only in u, bye (ms.szelényi is very stupid, and utterly ridiculous as she makes up the history to serve her purpose)

  20. @observer
    next time observe much deeper into it, maybe u can see the obvious

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