Investigative journalists say that Putin, Orbán are most corrupt

2015 started with a new condemnation of Mr. Viktor Orbán; the embattled Prime Minister of Hungary was declared one of the most corrupt politicians of Europe.

The Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) announced on December 31, that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named corruption’s “person of the year” for 2014. OCCRP is an international organization of investigative journalists.

Putin “was recognized for his work in turning Russia into a major money-laundering center for enabling organized crime in Crimea and in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine; for his unblemished record of failing to prosecute criminal activity; and for advancing a government policy of working with and using crime groups.”

Runners-up in the competition were the authoritarian Mr. Orbán and Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

Mr. Orbán and Mr. Putin (Reuters)

Mr. Orbán and Mr. Putin (Reuters)

In October Washington blacklisted six people with ties to the Orbán-government from entering the United States. They are accused of involvement in corruption, and the head of Hungary’s tax authority Ildikó Vida has confirmed she was on the list, along with several colleagues at the tax office.

The Orbán-government is firmly denying any wrongdoing and not even willing to investigate the tax authority. Instead Mr. Orbán started to attack the United States. He claims that the US has gone beyond exerting its influence and is now taking an active part in the domestic politics of Hungary. The allegations of corruption are a “cover” under which America is promoting its interests in the country.

Orbán presented his conspiracy theory in a recent interview to public television. He explained, that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the EU-US free trade talks impinge on the areas of energy and trade policy which are especially overt US interests. Hungary does not wish to be drawn into the cold war atmosphere present in US-Russia relations, he said. “They want to draw us into a conflict which can only have a bad outcome for us.”

The OCCRP condemnation of Mr. Orbán is the latest sign that the Hungarian government is not listening, they are not willing to acknowledge the widespread and crippling corruption of the regime.

In the past critics attacked Fidesz for failing to distance itself from the neo-Nazi Jobbik party, which has been accused of being anti-Semitic and gains traction from attacks on Roma. Mr. Orbán’s party was charged with creating an election system that is slanted toward favored candidates. His political machine was accused of manipulating the media, including through restrictions on political advertising that limit parties’ ability to broadcast advertisements, but allow his government as an institution to boast of its achievements.

Now criticism has reached a new level. OCCRP claims that Mr. Orbán is corrupt, and running his government just like a criminal enterprise. This time the accusations are not from Washington, OCCRP members are investigative journalists from Eastern-Europe. Among them Budapest based, a highly respected portal led by Mr. Tamás Bodoky. They are doing a remarkable job documenting Hungary’s transformation into a mafia state.

György Lázár

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