Kurt Volker’s departure a blow to Hungarian autocracy

Hungary’s party state has lost a key American ally and an enthusiastic promoter of Hungarian autocracy with the departure of Kurt Volker, President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Ukraine. Mr. Volker is at the centre of the current impeachment turmoil in Washington DC, after telephone call transcripts released by the White House suggest that the American president attempted to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating the son of his key Democratic rival, Joe Biden, as a favour for American support to the embattled Eastern European country. Mr. Volker resigned his position on Friday without offering any public comment.

As Hungary’s Népszava daily points out, Mr. Volker has been a key Washington-based promoter of Fidesz, Hungary’s dictatorial ruling party. The former envoy, after working for the CIA, served as a diplomat in Hungary for three years during the nineties and he also mastered the Hungarian language. Although Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn was in power for part of his tenure in Budapest, Mr. Volker developed ties with Fidesz — a party that at the time has just finished transforming itself from a liberal alliance of young democrats to a conservative force which formed a coalition government with the Smallholders’ Party in 1998. According to Népszava, the current Orbán government had set its hopes on Mr. Volker becoming the new U.S. ambassador in Budapest, as the party’s leaders maintained close ties to the Washington insider. Mr. Volker’s friendship and professional association with the late John McCain, a critic of President Trump and also of Hungarian ruler Viktor Orbán, reportedly nixed his chances of becoming ambassador.

Kurt Volker in Budapest in 2019. Source: Válasz Online.

Crucially, Mr. Volker is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hungary Initiatives Foundations, a pro-Fidesz organization based in the United States which promotes the interests of the Orbán regime under the guise of cultural and artistic programming.  On the Board of Trustees, Mr. Volker serves alongside Tamás Fellegi, János Martonyi, Edith Lauer, George Pataki and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, April Foley, who is an unwavering supporter of the Hungarian autocrat.

In the past several years, Mr. Volker has visited party officials in Budapest on several occasions — most recently this past April, when he attempted to sway avowedly pro-Russian Hungarian foreign policy on the question of Ukraine’s relationship with NATO. During his most recent visit to the Hungarian capital, Mr. Volker was interviewed by the conservative Válasz Online — the remnant of the defunct Heti Válasz, which fell out of favour with Fidesz last year for engaging in journalism. Válasz Online’s Szabolcs Vörös decided not to ask Mr. Volker a single question on matters pertaining to Hungary, but focused exclusively on Ukraine instead. In this interview, Mr. Volker pointed to Hungary and Poland under their current respective governments as examples of democracy. He said: “Ukraine is important from a variety of prospectives (sic). First is the people. People deserve to have a secure society, their own country, their own territorial integrity, they deserve to build a democracy in a prosperous economy, just like everybody else whether it is the United States, Hungary or Poland…”

In October, Mr. Volker will be testifying to a Congressional committee as part of impeachment investigations. Observers of Hungarian politics would do well to follow the proceedings.


  1. The plot thickens. Remember that 6 part series we published here about the assistance provided to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump by Viktor Orbán’s utterly corrupt autocracy? (See underneath) The resignation of Kurt Volper yesterday is directly connected to that narrative.

    Our investigative report documented Hungary’s „deep-penetration” by the Russian Secret Services, Orbán’s anti-Ukranian coalition with Putin, the close ties between Orbán’s American political advisors, like Volper, and Hungary’s „open-door policy” throughout the last presidential campaign, to „alt-right”, pro-Russian and extremist anti-Clinton bloggers that fed the bot attacks coordinated by Jared Kushner and Robert Mercer’s cyber operatives.

    Kurt Volper was and is to this day, one of those “Ugly Americans” (along with David Cornstein, Trump’s and Roy Cohn’s buddy from the “good ol’ days”, who is now Trump’s back channel to Putin in Budapest), who threw the people of Hungary under the bus, after Viktor Orbán began to dismantle that country’s democratic order. Remember Steve Bannon’s recent comment, that Orbán was Trump before Trump? Volper, Cornstein, Bannon, are American carpetbaggers who profits from promoting the rise of a criminal political class in the territories of the former Soviet Empire.

    The talking heads on American media outlets should be careful not to read an anti-Orbán, anti-Trump turn into Volper’s resignation, but investigate what the man was up to chaperoning Trump’s ace in the hole, Rudy Giuliani in the Ukraine. They should look into what he is doing on the Board of an openly pro-Orbán, anti-democratic lobby group in the US without being registered as a lobbyist for the Hungarian dictator. But most importantly, Congress should investigate how these Washington lobbyists who are paid millions by foreign autocrats, are undermining justice and the rule of law in America.

    To revisit our earlier series please follow the URLs underneath.

    The Budapest Bridge
    Part I.
    Part II.
    Part III.

    Creatures in the Budapest Hills

    Part I.
    Part II.
    Part III.

  2. Avatar György Lázár says:

    The unfolding Kurt Volker scandal may turn out to be the most significant blow to the Orbán regime’s “soft lobbying” efforts in the United States. Volker flatly rejected suggestions that he supports the Orbán government’s lobbying efforts, yet on May 19, 2015 he testified in support of Orbán and Co. at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing called by pro-Orbán and very pro-Putin Dana Rohrabacher.

    Volker speaks Hungarian (!) and here is his response from 2012.


  3. If related to Paul Volker of the Federal Reseve – Carter time – no big loss

  4. It’s important to insert into these comments, for the benefit of English speaking readers, an English summary of Kurt Volker’s Hungarian language defense against the charge that he is a paid American lobbyist and promoter of the corrupt Orbán autocracy in Washington.

    In his Hungarian language letter to the editors reproduced above, Mr. Volker claims, that up to 2012, he never received a penny for his activities from the Hungarian government. He claims, that he is not driven by profit, in his support of the Orbán regime, but by his love of Hungary and her people. He advises those, who refuse to stay silent as justice, the rule of law, civil and human rights are trampled on in Hungary, to stop being so divisive, and to cooperate with the criminal class, like he does.

    Mr. Volker’s argument is the main argument of the Orbán regime and its lobbyists in the US and worldwide. It tries to transform (re-frame) criticism of its obscene and corrupt practices as an attack on Hungary and her people. This is the same argument, the North Korean dictator uses – and which Donald Trump is now so fond of repeating – “Chairman Kim loves his people very much, under him North Korea will become very rich”.

    Mr. Volker, democrats don’t go to bed with money laundering criminals, who are robbing their people blind and destroying our planet with their unsustainable economic policies. We are not going to keep our mouths shut, because you happen to be the follower of that well known “harmony ideology” which dismisses the scrutiny of corrupt politicians as an attack on the victims of the crime. Save that fraudulent advice for the members of the carpetbagging class that is promoting the crooked dictators who are spreading across the former territories of the Soviet Empire like mushrooms.

    Mr. Volker! Your silence, nay, embrace of the practices of Hungary’s criminal political leadership is not only reprehensible, but disgraceful. You are an enabler, an accomplice of criminal politicians who profit from the enactment of an affinity-fraud on defenseless, ill-informed people. Putin, Orbán, the leaders of the current Polish government have built their power by misleading their citizens, by eliminating the rule of law, and by the use of strong arm tactics and intimidation. You should be ashamed of yourself for selling out the values that made America great. Rather than lecturing those, who are trying to save those values from corrupt autocrats, you should join forces with those who are trying to put an end to the global affinity fraud.

    Mr. Volker, it’s never too late to come clean. Show us what you’re made of during the upcoming impeachment hearings. Affinity to Túrós Rudi is not the same as affinity to Trump’s Rudy.

  5. Pingback: Kurt Volker’s McCain Institute received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Orbán Government

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