Fidesz begins intimidation campaign against civil society with Soros mercenary list

Attila Chikán, the Minister of the Economy during the initial years of the first Orbán government (1998-2002), broke down in tears on live television Thursday night. He was one of hundreds of mostly private Hungarian citizens who were listed in the Figyelő propaganda weekly as being “mercenaries of Soros.” Barely 11 years ago, on the nineteenth anniversary of Fidesz, Viktor Orbán himself commended Mr. Chikán as having developed the forum that led to the birth of Fidesz in March 1988. Three decades ago Mr. Chikán also coordinated the George Soros grant that funded Mr. Orbán and a handful of other young Fidesz founders. Mr. Chikán has not seen eye-to-eye with Fidesz on economic matters for a number of years and he is a member of the board of Central European University. As such, he is now labelled as being a mercenary of George Soros.

“We have a very rough and hastily prepared list, on which highly respected Hungarians are listed–people who have a history of serious accomplishments in their fields. It will always be a great honour for me to appear on a list with the likes of János Kornai,” said Mr. Chikán, in tears. The 90 year old János Kornai, now deemed to be a Soros mercenary, is an economist who in the eighties was a prominent voice against communist-style central economic planning.

Other people considered to be Soros lackeys include János Kis, one of the key people behind the transition to democracy in Hungary in 1989-90. Former Mayor Gábor Demszky earned a place on the list for the simple reason that it was under his tenure that Central European University opened its campus in Budapest. The ominous list includes the names of professors and researchers at CEU, members of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the members of the Károly Eötvös Institute think tank, members and employees of a foundation that works with the Roma community called Romaversitas, a foundation that offers aid to disadvantaged Hungarian children called A Chance for Disadvantaged Children Foundation, as well as Hungarian members of Amnesty International. Journalists from the Direkt36 website are also among those listed.

Among the alleged Soros mercenaries are long deceased individuals as well. For instance, British-Czech philosopher Ernst Gellner died in 1995 and former CEU rector Yehuda Elkana died in 2012, but both appear on the list. István György Tóth of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences died 13 years ago, yet his name is also listed.

The late Professor György Boytha of both Pázmány Péter Catholic University and CEU also appears as a Soros mercenary, yet he died in 2010, before Fidesz even came to power. Mr. Boytha was a life-long supporter of Viktor Orbán. His son, Péter, responded: “He was never a member of any party, but he had political convictions. He was a true European and a supporter of Fidesz up until his death.”

The Soros mercenary list in Figyelő. Photo: Tamás Botos / 444.

The Figyelő weekly is owned by Fidesz court historian Mária Schmidt and her politician son, Péter Ungár, whose presence in the opposition Politics Can Be Different party (LMP) is increasingly troubling. When journalists phoned Ms. Schmidt to ask if she felt that publishing such a list was acceptable, she scolded the journalist for calling her directly, when he should have known that she employs an entire department to handle media queries on her behalf. When László Szily from 444.hu phoned Péter Ungár for his opinion on the list, asking whether in light of this he could be a credible opposition politician, he said “thank you for your question and good-bye,” before putting down the phone. Later in the day, Mr. Ungár said that he “does not agree with the government nor with its propaganda.”

Figyelő is owned by Mr. Ungár and his mother through a family company called Pió-21. They purchased the publication, previously a respectable political weekly, in January 2017 and turned it into an overt propaganda organ of the Fidesz leadership. The publication survives financially due to lavish government, tax-payer funded advertising–sometimes up to a dozen full-page government ads in a single issue. Mr. Ungár claims that he receives no profits from his publication. As we reported earlier this week, Mr. Ungár is interested in purchasing the now defunct Magyar Nemzet daily, which ceased publication this week.

On Good Friday, Mr. Orbán announced that Hungarian national security authorities are monitoring 2,000 Hungarians deemed to be Soros spies. Just before that, on Hungary’s March 15th National Holiday, he declared that after the election, he would exact political, legal and moral retribution on his opponents. Figyelő’s appalling list, condemned by the United States Embassy in Budapest as clear intimidation, suggests that the regime has launched hunting season.

13 Comments

  1. Anyone who is an advocate of justice, the rule of law and sustainable economic development in Hungary, or among the team that writes for the HFP, is a “Soros spy” I welcome the promotion. No need to cry over Argentina. Bob Dylan has spoken to the weather -men. A hard rain is gonna fall on Mr. Orbán’s neo-fascist parade. The times they are a’changin’.

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  3. This is getting really, really ugly. It’s not going to end well for either the thousands of Hungarians declared “Soros mercenaries” nor for Orban and his henchmen. The message to the opposition and civil society is clear: the only way to get rid of this regime is through force, from the streets. Hungary may be heading towards violence. If I were one of those on the list, I would pack my bags and head on over to Ferihegy Airport.

  4. The only question may be asked; is the list correct? or is it false ? And why would it bother any one, in case being listed, or perhaps not listed? Freedom of the press, expression, while no personal harm ,danger, etc.is caused. Look at all the “dirty-stuff” they publish of known personalities, including presidents.

  5. It’s fascism folks !
    You better believe it now – yes, it is happening to you.
    For the democrats is an ever steeper uphill battle (the Figyelö list as indication).
    For the populace it’s a harder slug and life (20 billion Ft withdrawn from the hospitals one day after the election).

  6. To Bendeguz79: This is a proscription list and it makes no sense. These people are not groups and the accusation is lacking of any evidence. Looks like it is a prequel to some major authoritarian turn here. My guess is that after the persons on “the list,” entire categories of Hungarian citizens will be labelled publicly as “enemies of the state and of the Hungarian nation”.

  7. @Lanark: not if the opposition stands up united! And no, if I would be on that list I would not flee!

  8. Peter Sandor says:

    My heartfelt condolances, HFP . Sour grapes are sour. But remember, Hungarians were not allowed to enjoy the taste of victory for even one day in 1990. Accusations, innuendo, slurs and falsehoods started to be heaped upon the country and they started up again every time conservatives (I should say POPULISTS! , should I not? ) got back in power.
    The only thing intimidating the world nowadays is PC indoctrination by virulently intolerant, tyrannical neo-liberalism. Hajrá magyarok!

  9. BY JOE;

    Have not seen any accusation of any wrong doing. It’s more or less like the use on Facebook. People disclose all sorts of things about themselvs, family, as well their political preference as well.

    My question is this; Does not Hungarian law mandate that register as “Foreign agents” once they work for pay for a foreign entity ? Like Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campagn manager,who face prison time for working for Yanakoyich and has not registered. is name and face is all over the screen and papers. Is that ‘fascist dictatorship’ also ?

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      Please first inform yourself on this specific situation in Hungary. At the moment, you are very ill-informed and are not in a position to offer commentary on this subject.

  10. StrandedinSopron says:

    Is anyone really surprised? Orban pre-election openly has promised revenge against those who stand against him and now we are beginning to see that promise come to fruition.

    A young anti-corruption journalist and his girlfriend were recently murdered by (probably) “non-state” forces in neighboring Slovakia. Something similar would work very well for Orban and his gang; a lone nutter acting “independently” on the incessant anti-ngo and independent journalism propaganda in Orban’s media murders one of the Great Leader’s enemies. I hope it doesn’t happen but it is the inevitable outcome of Orban’s words in March.

    The management of the larger international NGOs are, I believe, wanting to pull out of Hungary because of the undoubtedly increasing threat to the personal safety of their staff. However, the staff largely, and very courageously want to fight on because once the big organisations go there will be no protection whatsoever on the international stage for the brave individuals who on their own stand up to Orban.

    I tend to agree with Lanark, I am not sure this situation can be “resolved” through democratic means while a man of Orban’s character rules this nation and whilst the EU basically give him the carte blanche to do what he wants. The future looks v ugly indeed

  11. Hey Pít Szándor:

    How are your sour grapes up there in Csobánc ? Just you wait till the “seregélyek hada” swoops down upon them. 🙂

    I feel for you, but no need for you to cry over the HFP. The wine and the ambiance in the bistro’s of Montreal’s Little Italy district are scintillating, Jean Talon Market is brimming with life, the talk is cheerful, they don’t roll up the sidewalks one hour after noon, as they do in Tapolca. The streets and parks are filled with free and happy people of many different colors and creeds, freely enjoying the blessings of their Lord.

    Where I live, no one has to worry if he speaks up against the ruling party, no one has to suffer being branded as a traitor, or a Canada hater, if he or she happens not to be fond of those who are on top. This is not a divided nation, where hatred of foreigners is at fever pitch, this is not a country where if three or four Muslim refugee children are invited to visit a small town by its mayor, the mayor is chased out of town with pitchforks, as the country’s Prime Minister applauds.

    My dear Peter. I know you prefer being on the bottom rather than on the top, and as you know, I never held that against you. But please recognize, that we at the HFP, we know, along with de Tocqueville, about the dictatorship of the majority. Size is not everything. Might does not make right.

    PLEASE note my dear little friend: less than 30% of Hungary’s ELIGIBLE voters voted for Fidesz. To say that two thirds of Hungary want Fidesz rule is fake news. Your Party didn’t even secure the majority of those who went out to vote. Close, but no cigar. Please get a grip on yourself.

    Listen Pete. I send my regards to your family. If only your children could talk some sense into that silly head of yours. Go in peace. I don’t know why you torment yourself with reading the words of those who you despise. Go down to your wine cellar instead and raise a glass to your Lord Almighty, and pray to Him, that your children, grandchildren survive the hurdles put in their way by the ilks of Putin, China’s dictator, or that clown in the White House who are all heroes to your buddy, the engineer of that little toy-train in the village of Felcsút, when he’s not busy ripping off billions from Europe’s and his country’s taxpayers.

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