The collapse of Index – Orbán is dismantling independent media

Hungary’s authoritarian regime is showing its true intentions. The government has declared zero tolerance against independent media outlets voicing criticism of government policies.

In 2016 Orbán engineered the shutdown Hungary’s largest broadsheet newspaper, Népszabadság. The official story was “declining sales” and the ruling Fidesz party beamed that the shutdown was “a rational economic decision.”  Népszabadság was not in immediate financial danger and got the ax after it criticized Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s anti-migrant referendum.

Using the same technique recently Mr. Miklós Vaszily, a pro-Orbán oligarch purchased a 50% stake in a company controlling Index, Hungary’s largest news portal.  Soon the portal reported reduced revenues and editor-in-chief Mr. Szabolcs Dull was dismissed. The journalists protested.  Index had no financial problems and they demanded Dull’s reinstatement.  After the owner’s representatives refused to do so, almost the entire staff and management have resigned.

For all practical purposes Index, the country’s largest independent news portal collapsed.

The editorial staff published a letter: “For years, we’ve been saying that there are two conditions for the independent operation of Index: that there be no external influence on the content we publish or the structure and composition of our staff. Firing Szabolcs Dull violates our second condition,” they wrote.

Now Orbán is trying to control the Hungarian emigree media in North America.  Millions were spent to establish new English and Hungarian language outlets and spread Orbanism, a mix of nationalism and Christian White Supremacy in the US and Canada.

  • The government established a Diaspora Council and recruited loyal pro-Orbán emigrees.   Members receive a lavish trip to Budapest and are asked to “defend the reputation of Hungary” and write pro-Orbán “Letters to the Editor” to newspapers in Canada and the US.
  • Budapest is also using the so called Kőrösi Csoma Program to bring loyal Hungarian journalists to the US circumventing official channels.  Since US Law requires a “Media Visa” for entry of journalists they are sponsored as folk dancers or language teachers.
  • Using the Bethlen Program Hungary actually makes direct payments as so called “grants” to pro-Orbán radio stations and news portals in the US and Canada. A good example is the Bocskai Radio in Cleveland operating at John Carroll University.

The Hungarian Free Press is a non-partisan news source, we welcome all contributions reflecting the democratic values: Read more about this here.

The Hungarian Free Press does not receive or accept support from the Hungarian Government and we support Index and the independence of Hungarian media.

“Free Country – Free Press” Hungarian demonstration for press freedom in Budapest on July 24.

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