Russian spy chief, oligarchs and Kremlin operatives accessed Hungarian cash-for-residency program

Hungary served as a key gateway to the European Union for a growing number of Russian spies, oligarchs and Kremlin political operatives, thanks to the sale of residency bonds between 2013 and 2017. A joint investigative report by the 444 news site, Direkt36 and Russia’s Novaya Gazeta, published in both Hungarian and English, shows that Russian citizens who should have raised national security concerns in Hungary were being granted full access to the EU by Hungarian authorities, in exchange for cash. This story first broke early this year and we covered it in HFP. Thanks to a follow-up report, we now have specific names of prominent and often questionable Russian nationals who bought their way into the EU, via Hungary.

Hungarians celebrate Vladimir Putin and Russian influence on the streets of Budapest. Photo: MTI.

Vladimir Blotskiy, a Member of the Duma and prominent businessman, was among those to be granted residency in Hungary, along with his family. Mr. Blotskiy’s name appears in the so-called Paradise Papers–a documentary collection of data on prominent politicians and businessmen with secret off-shore accounts and networks. Mr. Blotskiy claims that he ultimately ceded his right to take up residency in Hungary after he was elected to the Duma in 2016.

Far more troubling is the fact that Hungarian authorities gave residency to the son of Sergey Naryshkin, the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR — Sluzhba vneshney razvedki). The SVR’s mission is to engage in espionage activities outside the Russian Federation and to collect foreign intelligence. Mr. Naryshkin’s son, the 39 year old Andrey, was a participant in Hungary’s cash-for-residency program. Sergey Naryshkin appears on an EU list of sanctioned Russians, for having supported the invasion of Crimea. 

Among Hungary’s clients was businessman Dmitry Borisovich Pavlov, who is believed to be affiliated with organized crime in Russia. In November 2017, when Mr. Pavlov celebrated in his fiftieth birthday party in Moscow, a bloody shoot-out ensued, injuring six people. Mr. Pavlov was feted by a crowd of Russian crime lords, alongside members of the Duma. Hungarian authorities, apparently, were unconcerned.

Another name that causes alarm is that of Evgenii Evstratov, the former deputy head of Rosatom, which is leading the contentious expansion of the Paks nuclear energy plant in Hungary. Mr. Evstratov was arrested on charges of embezzlement (2.7 million euros) and was imprisoned for three months before the criminal case was dismissed. It would appear that Hungarian authorities ultimately rejected Mr. Evstratov’s application, as the applicant was deemed to be “politically exposed.”

A handful of other prominent Russian businessmen applied and were approved for Hungarian, and by extension, EU residency.

The Hungarian cash-for-residency program was implemented by Fidesz, without proper vetting or debate, less than two years after returning to power. It proved such a grave scandal, that the government cancelled it in 2017. Residency bonds were sold for 250,000 euros, but in an outrageous move, Hungary would return these funds to the applicant after five years, even though third party firms, often off-shore companies tied to key Fidesz political elites, managed these bonds and served as intermediaries. The firms collected service fees for this work, ranging from 40,000 to 60,000 euros per bond and often purchased the bonds from Hungary at discounted rates. All the while, Hungary and Hungarian taxpayers would remain on the hook for the full amount five years later. Some 20,000 such bonds were issued and will have to be paid back through taxpayer generated funds in the coming years, while the third-party offshore firms that profited will likely be long gone.

On Monday, the Democratic Coalition turned to the European Commission, noting that “the Hungarian government has allowed criminals, terrorists and spies on European Union soil.”

This is the narrative that combines Fidesz’s propensity for systemic corruption with its ties to the most disturbing elements in Moscow–including both the criminal underworld world and the Russian security establishment. The European Union, and specifically the European People’s Party, turns a blind eye at its own peril.

32 Comments

  1. Dear Editors:

    I wish to correct the following statement that appears in this otherwise very important piece:

    “This story first broke early this year and we covered it in HFP.”

    In fact, this story was broken in April 2017 on the pages of the HFP, and the author was none other than myself. Here is the quotation from my original piece:

    „Budapest is home to approximately 1000 members of the Russian secret service, most of them in the possession of Hungarian passports provided for by Hungary’s pro-Russian Ministry of the Interior. (These passports can be had for a hefty fee -300,000 Euros a pop – and after waiting only 30 days, which allows no time for a thorough vetting of the applicant. If passports were to be given to foreign aliens under such circumstances in the US, Homeland Security would be purged from top to bottom. In Canada, the minister would have to resign. In Hungary, this „passport business” has been subcontracted out to some of the most corrupt people in Viktor Orbán’s immediate entourage.) The Hungarian government’s corrupt passport system, enables Russia’s top operatives to work and travel without any restrictions within the EU, and more importantly, to travel to the USA without a visa.”

    The trolls to this site, had a field day denigrating my credibility, after I published The Budapest Bridge and they were handsomely rewarded by some of my former colleagues, such as Prof. Harnad, who happens to be not a political scientist but a psychologist, with layman’s knowledge of what is going on in Hungary’s political realm. He too is often johnny on the spot telling readers about my “stridency” and how two thirds of what I wrote in that earlier piece may not in fact be true.

    The URL to Part I of my 3 part, 2017 investigative report can be found here:: http://hungarianfreepress.com/2017/04/13/the-budapest-bridge-hungarys-role-in-the-collusion-between-the-trump-campaign-and-the-russian-secret-service/
    The URL to Part II is here: http://hungarianfreepress.com/2017/04/14/the-budapest-bridge-hungarys-role-in-the-collusion-between-the-trump-campaign-and-the-russian-secret-service-part-2/
    Part III is here: http://hungarianfreepress.com/2017/04/21/the-budapest-bridge-epilogue/

    Investigative reporting in the USA and world wide, along with the indictments handed out by the Mueller investigators has proven most of the assertions I made in 2017 to be factually correct. Please wait, until the Miller investigation closes. There are still a few “shoes to fall”. I’m pleased to read this most recent confirmation 🙂

  2. There is NO “cash for residency”, nor “residency for cash “.

    Some countries hope and need to attract investments.
    Simply because their citizens are exploited and poor. The poor only depends on investment by others to help them to create jobs and opportunity.

    And when certain amount of investments made that require management , supervision of that investment just how could any one do it if had no access to the land where it is starting or running any business?

    Would the poster of the above comment be able to perform his duties, let’s say at Concordia,(in case he might be active there in any capacity),in case he would be required to obtain an entry visa each time he feels might be needed to be present in Canada ?

    What about persons who invested in Hungary in any kind of business?
    Who ever that individual may be.
    Yes, it is very very possible that such a person may be suspected later by its critics,and even accused.
    But that is a different can of worms !
    And just why Hungary could not run a security check on all such investors ?
    That is the fault of your socialist, national as well international socialist friends !

    But look at the brighter side of your complaints.Today there a businises that are searching workers, and not workers who are searching for work.
    Need to read Mr. Adam’s Sept.3 impressions of his vacation to Hungary .

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      You are so utterly ill informed and apparently incorrigible that you have now spent your one and only opportunity to comment on this article. Goodbye.

    • Robert Morrison says:

      Bendi, that is “a different kettle of fish”… not a can of worms. The later one is what you open when you write ill-informed staff. Now you are in the penalty box. Take a rest and think before start punching the keyboard. It is the privilege of the left to practice fact-free politics, the right has to be right. Learn it and live by it.

      • “It is the privilege of the left to practice fact-free politics, the right has to be right.”

        Two day later you will write fascism is an invention of the leftist. The fascism was WWII/is a fact-free politic … but 90 Million died and the right has to be right but you are not right so you are a leftist, a fascist? You can´t understand your holy chair, nobody can understand it.

  3. Step 1: Boot Fidesz out of the EPP. If they still refuse to do it now, the EPP will lose its credibility for good (this includes Angela Merkel and the CDU).

    Step 2: Invoke Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union against Hungary.

    Hungary is a pariah state led by criminals. Kick this shithole (copyright Donald Trump) to the curb where it belongs.

  4. So resettling 1297 (mostly Syrian) refugees would be catastrophic for Hungary but 20,000 immigrants (as long as they contribute to Fidesz coffers) is no problem.

    The EU should call in the loans and boot Hungary out of the Union.

    • Robert Morrison says:

      I agree. The EU should also take away the scam bag multi supermarkets that charge the same or more for substandard merchandises as they do in the West and pay their Hungarian employees as they pay in the sub sahara territories.

      I enjoy every moment when I read these kind of blood thirsty comments written by outsiders. Bravo.

  5. Robert Morrison says:

    András B. Göllner on September 10, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    “who happens to be not a political scientist but a psychologist, with layman’s knowledge of what is going on in Hungary’s political realm”
    Wow there it is. In order to know what happens in Hungary or even more to dictate what should happen in Hungary one MUST be a political scientist, preferably a Canadian one, perhaps a retired Emeritus Associate Professor, and most importantly a leftist Orbán hater former communication advisor to Fleto.

  6. It was high time Mr. Adam that you kicked out bendeguz for good.

    Watch his style and broken English because he may return with another alias.

  7. You’re a funny guy Bobby bácsi; bloodthirsty? Truly the herceg of hyperbole you be. It’s true that I don’t live in Hungary, but I do have a Hungarian passport, and have visited there visit there most years, so hardly an outsider.

    As far supermarket prices go, you’re right there (stopped clock moment), some products are more expensive in a Tesco or Spar or Auchan than in the same branded store in (some) other parts of Europe. Maybe, just maybe this has to do with the 27% afa (value added tax) in Hungary.

  8. @ Morrison

    “Wow there it is. In order to know what happens in Hungary or even more to dictate what should happen in Hungary one MUST be a political scientist, preferably a Canadian one, perhaps a retired Emeritus Associate Professor, and most importantly a leftist Orbán hater former communication advisor to Fleto.”

    Nice try, but no cigar, troll.

    Participation in politics is a right and duty of everyone, including psychologists, sex therapists, ball jugglers and trolls such as you. The scientific study of the process about who gets what, when and how in a community, and the analysis of the State, however, is the domain of a discipline known as political science. If you want to evaluate how sturdy the bridge is that you are walking on, who would you ask for an expert opinion, an engineer, or a saxophone player ? If you want to study the behavior of markets, who would you consult with ? An economist, or a stripper on main street ? The half-baked ideas you bring here are as boring and irrelevant as you, masterbaker.

    As for your other efforts at discrediting me: Lying is not considered to be a valid scientific method chump. That may get you some kudos in Donald Trump’s closet, but not in the books of those, who are dedicated to the methods of empiricism, championed by Aristotle. I was never a communications advisor to Mr. Gyurcsány or to any political Party anywhere in the world. I was a pro-bono supporter of Viktor Orbán once, and did help him on his maiden voyage to North America. I did introduce him to major financial donors in Canada, because he had me fooled. I have first hand experience, unlike you, about his fraudulent conduct. I decided to speak up, rather than stick my nose up his behind. I gave my place in the line, to you. I gather you are enjoying the opportunity.

    Robituson. Go back and join the alley cats with your flights of fantasy or take a spoonful of your own medicine, and then come here to cough.

  9. “If you want to evaluate how sturdy the bridge is that you are walking on, who would you ask for an expert opinion, an engineer, or a saxophone player ?”

    None of the above Andras; this bloke would likely ask someone at Fox and Friends, or perhaps Breitbart (the original source of the, Soros is the devil incarnate meme).

  10. @ Phil S. Stine

    You are absolutely right Phil. I had a hidden agenda. I am, alas, a sax player 🙂

    Nice to hear your voice here. I encourage more of our readers to speak up, and join forces with those who are defending universal values, that go beyond the usual Left-Right dichotomy. The trolls that congregate here should be told loud and clear, that justice, the rule of law, and sustainable economic development are not Left wing, but universal values. Surrendering the public sphere, even down here, to the trolls is surrendering responsibility for the welfare of our fellow human beings.

    Don’t listen to a political scientist like me. Listen to a musician like Bob Marley, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F69PBQ4ZyNw

    “We’re sick and tired of the isms schisms, we’re just trying to go to heaven in Jesus’ name, Lord…. Get up stand up, don’t give up the fight.”

  11. Robert Morrison says:

    András B. Göllner on September 11, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    “and join forces with those who are defending universal values, that go beyond the usual Left-Right dichotomy”
    András seriously. Is there anything other than slogans like European values, universal values, unspecified values that can be made up on the fly?
    What about the right to life?
    What about the right to live in peace in the homeland of a nation without invading hordes cutting the life of young man and women short for their religion driven extremist political views or just simply satisfying their sexual urges?

    Here is my offer András: you condemn the immigration policies of the EU, UN, OSF, Soros etc, that want to force countries like Hungary to allow the unchecked military age hordes of militant man invade our land and in exchange I will join you to protest the Orbán led Fidesz government proven wrongdoings.

    Deal?

  12. Andras; The likes of Bobby and a few others may be trolls, but they’re pretty crap at it; Dollar Shop trolls at best. I don’t think there’s any point in debunking their “wisdom” with detailed posts and links; jobb csak kigúnyolni őket, or just ignore.

  13. Is it ok to use the term, faszfej in here?

  14. Mr. Adam,

    Time to send Morrison to join Bendeguz !

  15. Robert Morrison says:

    karlbusch on September 12, 2018 at 3:14 am

    “Time to send Morrison to join Bendeguz !”
    As a trusted advisor of the Editor you might trouble yourself to specify the reason for your suggested expulsion? Perhaps you cannot tolerate opposing views? Is that intolerance at the maximum scale?

    Or you are deeply offended having your misguided views questioned and debated? Isn’t that a very low political intelligence?

    Or simply you feel safe among your ‘elvtársak’ and want to exclude all others? Is that an elevated level of ideological insecurity?

    Your choice.

  16. @ Phil S. Stine

    I agree with your evaluation of Morrison. But there is more to this. Morrison is a hard working troll. He/she is a “neutrolizer” who specializes in destroying the public sphere, by flooding it with nonsense, hoping that consequently, people with something rational to say, will turn away not only from this arena down here, but from the space above as well.

    I refuse to concede the space here to the likes of Bende goose, Morrison and the other nameless trolls that are given a free reign to malign the opponents of the Hungarian autocracy, to disinform readers, and limit the possibility of fact based discourse. This is the only public forum in Canada, where people of good will can stand up to the anti-democratic virus sweeping towards our shores from Hungary. I’d hate to see this site, as so many others, fall victim to “neutrollization”.

    There are only two solutions to the invasion of the trolls. Either you shut them out outright, or you confront them in large numbers. The first solution is unlikely to happen here. The only other option is to engage the trolls in large numbers, and in a language that unnerves them. We should encourage anti-troll participants, rather than discourage them, and sharpen our anti-trolling linguistic skills. Laughing at their stupidity is a must, and one should not spend too much time at any one sitting with these polluters of the public sphere. 🙂

  17. Robert Morrison says:

    András B. Göllner on September 12, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    “Morrison is a hard working troll.”
    Well some of us has to work hard to earn a modest living while others can rake in a substantial public founded pension. 🙂

    “He/she is a “neutrolizer” who specializes in”
    If showing the other side of the issue is neutralizing so the readers get wider view of the matter in question I am more than happy to provide my continued services to the HFP, of course until you order my expulsion as you did before. 🙁

    “to disinform readers, and limit the possibility of fact based discourse”
    Now let’s just take a step back because you are not the depository of the absolute truth.

    “This is the only public forum in Canada, where people of good will can stand up to the anti-democratic virus sweeping towards our shores from Hungary.”
    It is most unfortunate that I cannot debate you in an open forum in front of the hundreds or thousand of young minds you misled during your tenure. It would perhaps open some eyes to reality. And yes it would be my pleasure to provide the badly needed “neutrollization” in the overwhelmingly far left university environment.

    “The only other option is to engage the trolls in large numbers, and in a language that unnerves them.”
    As far as I know you do not speak that language Bandi. 🙂

    Looking forward to your army of “anti-trollers” to engage in some intelligent debates. 🙂

  18. Robert Morrison says:

    Phil S. Stine on September 13, 2018 at 6:18 am

    “Debate, is that what you call what you do?”
    Yes, without obscenity and vulgarity as some of us are capable to do so, while others have the need to resort to insults and labelling. Try it, it is fun. 🙂

  19. @ Morrison

    Your trademark is to label everyone who criticizes Orbán’s autocracy a “Marxist” or a “liberal” and to ignore the substance of the criticism. If you think you can swindle yourself with that dumb ass methodology into the ranks of those, who underpin their cases with empirically verifiable evidence, you are a legend in your own mind.

    Phil Stine hit the nail on the head with his earlier comment. Just don’t let it go to your head. Big boys don’t cry.

  20. Robert Morrison says:

    Don Kichote on September 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

    “Two day later you will write fascism is an invention of the leftist.”
    No my friend, I keep writing it for about two years it just dodged your ever open watchful eyes. It was 1918 when Benito Mussolini (was a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party – that seems to me a leftist) founded the fascist movement. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (better known as Lenin and to the best of my knowledge he was as LEFTIST as it gets) was the first “statesman” to congratulate Mussolini.
    History doesn’t lie, historians do. Learn

    “The fascism was WWII/is a fact-free politic”
    That was Nazism Mr. Don Quixote not fascism. Just to help you improve your knowledge in history Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe but Germany didn’t listen to him and invaded Poland on 1 September 1939.

    “ … but 90 Million died”
    Not that it makes is any more acceptable but the wide ranging estimate is between 50 million and 80 million, the later includes war-related disease and famine.

    “and the right has to be right but you are not right so you are a leftist, a fascist?”
    That is quite nice reasoning. I will print it in a banner and place it on my wall, giving credit toi you of course.

    “You can´t understand your holy chair, nobody can understand it.”
    I’ll be honest with you, I never expected or suspected that you would ever understand whatever is commented on this site. I think it is too high for you as “a briquette pile for a miners’ frog” (old Hungarian slang) 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • “… historical fact that fascism is a leftist invention …” that you wrote on September 13, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      “It is the privilege of the left to practice fact-free politics, the right has to be right. Learn it and live by it.” that you wrote on September 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Here you write: „That was Nazism Mr. Don Quixote not fascism.” … 1 + 1 +1 …

  21. @ Morrison

    “History doesn’t lie, historians do. Learn ”

    Physician ! heal thyself. Your comment to Don Kichote, which pins itself on a wise (sic) Hungarian proverb – “a briquette pile for a miners’ frog” – may merit a footnote in “Politics for Dummies” but it does not cut mustard in the agora. I give you “balls for a one armed juggler” Learn. Practice your english vernacular. You have nothing to lose, but your balls.

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