Money talks; it also marches

I would like to remain on the topic of the Peace March a little longer because a few days ago I encountered a name that I wasn’t familiar with before: László Csizmadia. His name cropped up as one of the three or four organizers of the march along with Zsolt Bayer, András Bencsik, and Tamás Fricz. Tamás Fricz is an “independent” political scientist while András Bencsik used to be the editor of  party news in Népszabadság during the Kádár regime. And we all know about Zsolt Bayer, a good friend of Viktor Orbán and a man known for his coded anti-Semitic writings.

So, we know a fair amount about these people’s past and current activities, but one hears little about László Csizmadia. He is currently the chairman of the Nemzeti  Együttműködési Alap (NEA / National Co-operation Fund) and as such he has about 3 billion forints at his disposal to hand out to deserving civic organizations. The Orbán government doesn’t have to worry about this money ending up in the wrong hands. Csizmadia makes sure that only those groups receive grant money who judiciously work for the regime of national cooperation. As Csizmadia said in July of 2011, it is wrong to assume that civic groups are normally anti-establishment, anti-governmental entities. The list of those who received sizable sums of money from NEA is by and large a list of faithful supporters of the regime.

Free money / ep.Sos.de / flickr

Yes, the list. The NEA’s website is designed in such a way that a full list of the grants cannot be accessed, but atlatszo.hu managed to obtain the list. Even if one doesn’t know much about these groups the names themselves are telling: the Knights of St. George, Women Lovers of Wine in Tokaj; Hungarian Carpathian Association; Association of Christian Intelligentsia; and Regnum Marianum Catholic Community, among many others.

Csizmadia, in addition to his chairmanship of NEA, is also the head of a whole network of civic groups that are the beneficiaries of his NEA largesse. Csizmadia claims that some 400 civic groups belong to this umbrella organization, The Civil Együttműködési Tanács (Council of Civic Co-operation), which held its first open meeting in November 2011. I tried to find a list of these organizations but was unsuccessful.

Csizmadia also organizes the pro-government demonstrations through another most likely phony organization called Civil Összefogás Fórum (CÖF / Forum of Civic Co-operation). The financing of the demonstrations comes from the Civil Összefogás Közhasználatú Alapítvány (Nonprofit Foundation of Civic Cooperation). One cannot help but suspect that all these foundations and channels serve mainly to obscure the true source of the funds.

Csizmadia occasionally publishes articles on a website called Polgár Porta (www.polgarportal.hu). His latest post, dated October 15, announced the October 23 Peace March demonstration of civic groups in defense of the government so maligned by the opposition. He accused Gordon Bajnai of all sorts of crimes. According to Csizmadia, the former prime minister “with his party friends (pártbarátaival) squandered the money received from the IMF and drowned his already drowning country in a sea of debt.” He added that the opposition will use October 23 for campaign purposes when they have no right to exist. They should simply disappear in shame.

Speaking of squandering money (and shame), there are other beneficiaries of NEA who are even closer to Fidesz and the Orbán government than the organizations I mentioned earlier. The Magyar Dinnye Szövetség (Hungarian Melon Association) headed by György Simonka, a Fidesz member of parliament, received 4.4 million forints from NEA. An organization called Magyar Tanyákon Élők Egyesülete (Association of People Living on Hungarian Homesteads) received 4 million forints. This organization is headed by another Fidesz MP, József Balogh. The Nők a Nemzet Jövőjéért (Women for the Nation’s Future) got 1.2 million. This particular group belongs to an umbrella organization called Magyar Asszonyok Érdekszövetsége (Association of Hungarian Women) whose founder and honorary president is Ilona Ékes, another Fidesz MP. And saving the best for last, 3.5 million forints went to the Nők a Magyar Nemzetért Egyesület (Women for the Hungarian Nation) whose only activity, according to Népszava, was that it joined Csizmadia’s CÖF, the organization set up to manage the peace marches.

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36 comments

  1. Please! It’s Association of Hungarian *Ladies*! Make slip-ups Luke that and Hungarian Globe will start fact checking you!

  2. irnok :

    Please! It’s Association of Hungarian *Ladies*! Make slip-ups Luke that and Hungarian Globe will start fact checking you!

    I really hate “hölgyek” but it wasn’t. It was “nők” and “asszonyok.”

  3. I wonder who comes up with all those silly names.

    All this would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Like Breki wrote, these people are only intested in power – and the money that power brings …

  4. wolfi :
    I wonder who comes up with all those silly names.
    All this would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Like Breki wrote, these people are only intested in power – and the money that power brings …

    “And the money that power brings…”

    Not quite.
    During my 3 years in Skopje, I developed a theory on the Balkan mentality. In order to illustrate it, use your last three fingers, the last being your pinkie. Ok, starting with the pinkie…let it designate a very important factor in Balkan thinking–MONEY. But the next finger over depicts what a Balkan person will give up money for–POWER. Finally, the middle finger is the apex of Balkan ambition and achievement–it’s nothing less than,
    THE TRANSMISSION OF MISERY.

    It works perfectly for Hungarians, too.

  5. The activity of Csizmadia belongs to the category of organized crime.
    I wonder how he ‘deserved’ to become the head of this maffia .

  6. Cherry17 :
    The activity of Csizmadia belongs to the category of organized crime.
    I wonder how he ‘deserved’ to become the head of this maffia .

    “…how he deserved…”

    Well, by now we know that Orban has weeded his party of people of talent or intelligence: he’s got Matolcsies, Budais, and the like. So, in the Orban scheme of things you bubble to the top if you’re dim and acquiescent. I don’t know Csizmadia but I’m willing to bet his cup runneth over with both those sterling qualities.

  7. These civil organisations also sound very rural, I wonder if Fidesz has twigged that Budapest might revert to MSZP at the next elections but they can still rule without disturbance if the other 80% of the country stays loyal to Fidesz/KDNP?

  8. Ron, thanks for the photos. They reveal everything much better than words.
    As far as I can see from the last 6 photos , Csizmadia has already arrived in Asia , following the Dear Leader’s instructions. Now the picture is complete.

  9. Ron: I am afraid that is the CV of a different L. Csizmadia.

    Our guy is this one (born in 1947):

    http://www.civilosszefogas.hu/component/content/article/1-friss/280-nemzeti-egyuettmkoedesi-alap.html

    What is really interesting is that according to his CV, he had worked for six years as commercial director at Dél Budai Vendéglátóipari Vállalat. Now that is amazing, because former Interior Minister and Premier, Péter Boross had been head of this company between 1971-1989.

    As the company dealt intensively with tourists, the Communist secret services had effectively operated it. We shall not forget that after the change of regime, Boross has all along fought against the opening of secret service archives in Hungary.

    All in all, our Csizmadia is surely not an ordinary man…

  10. Ron and Turkmenbas: I have the feeling that you are talking about the same guy. Most likely someone made a typo: instead of 1937 he wrote 1947. The biographies are practically identical.

    Judging from I.Cs’s early pictures, I assume that the correct date is 1937.

  11. Turkmenbasi :
    Ron: I am afraid that is the CV of a different L. Csizmadia.
    Our guy is this one (born in 1947):
    http://www.civilosszefogas.hu/component/content/article/1-friss/280-nemzeti-egyuettmkoedesi-alap.html
    What is really interesting is that according to his CV, he had worked for six years as commercial director at Dél Budai Vendéglátóipari Vállalat. Now that is amazing, because former Interior Minister and Premier, Péter Boross had been head of this company between 1971-1989.
    As the company dealt intensively with tourists, the Communist secret services had effectively operated it. We shall not forget that after the change of regime, Boross has all along fought against the opening of secret service archives in Hungary.
    All in all, our Csizmadia is surely not an ordinary man…

    Turkmenba you may be right, or not or alternatively we both are right. The pictures of my CV match the images of google search and the video’s I am seeing (but not understand) of this COV website. Interesting your guy use to own (and I belief he still owns) Betex Zrt., which is “sponsored” by all kinds of government events. http://www.betex.hu/hu/references?id=10

  12. Fidesz loves, just loves to employ people who have some kind of connection to the old security services. First, the professionals were recruited based on extreme loyalty (not specifically to ideology, but to an institution and to their bosses, since obviously betrayal would have been very damaging) and the services were looking consistently for a special type of personality (consistency in HR in internal security was so important that for example Császár Józsefné worked way past beyond the fall of communism, into retirement age http://hetivalasz.hu/itthon/mai-idok-szocija-16549/).

    The ‘amateurs’ also represent a special type of personality (they were the ones who could not say no from among those who were selected for targeting by the professionals or did not want to say no or were just happy to serve because they felt useful etc.) and the services had ample time to select those who are the most loyal. They don’t even have to blackmail these former informants that their reports could be published, they (informants) know instinctively that they are indebted and thus continue to serve and help their former contacts in whatever capacity they can, if called upon.

    If you look at the CV’s of a lot of top Fidesz government people very carefully, you can ask questions how could this or that happen in the seventies (studying years abroad) or in the eighties (working for one of the few foreign companies operating in Hungary)? Well, the chances are that they cooperated with one branch or the other. The transfer between the branches was very common, but for various reason only the III/3 branch received attention (even though most of the people of the other branches also worked inside Hungary, these were just in a better position to be in contact with foreigners).

    What is the most intriguing of all, is that if you listened to the ‘OTP tapes’ (the leaked out mobile calls between UD Zrt. people and/or Sándor Csányi, which happened as part of a scandal a couple of years ago involving MDF, Csányi, Stumpf etc.), in one of the tapes between two private security guys, there was a reference to the fact that an unnamed senior government person (interestingly from SZDSZ according to the tape, which was at that time still in the government or at least they supported the MSZP from outside) told one of the speakers on the call about a confidential meeting related to the planned takeover of OMV of MOL.

    The person mentioning this information on the call was himself a III/3 professional back in the day (and now under Fidesz he is also back in the services; by the way I guess you you knew the expression: there is no such person as a former-KGB agent). The interesting point was, however, that the particular SZDSZ-man who was the source of information at the time of the call (in about 2009), was an informant of the III/3 according to the tape’s implication and was handled by the very speaker on the tape.

    Apparently in 2009, the SZDSZ-man was still in a ‘good relationship’ with his former handler and supplying him with information if called upon, that is decades after he used to be a communist informant. What this shows is that the human connections between handlers and informants remained there and still can be utilized nicely. I mean why would you want to give up such a network, especially if these people (not necessarily from III/3, as many have been outed, but from the other branches from which only a very few were outed) became much older and moved up in society’s hierarchy?

    My guess about Cs.L, is that he was such an informant/pro back in the ’70-80’s (in one capacity or another) and he uses his ‘professional’ connections and experience to manage a network (note that network, hálózat, was the most important concept for the branches, way before facebook) of civil society organizations now. I would not be surprised at all if he had gotten some material help from the services when trying identify those civil organizations where there could be an ‘old connection’ found which connection can be revived and used again — for new purposes.

  13. Lutra lutra :
    These civil organisations also sound very rural, I wonder if Fidesz has twigged that Budapest might revert to MSZP at the next elections but they can still rule without disturbance if the other 80% of the country stays loyal to Fidesz/KDNP?

    I’m never sure if Orbán/Fidesz are that clever, but it could be how it turns out, whether they are planning for it or not.

    Bp is very much a different place than the rest of the country, especially the Eastern ‘half’.

  14. Eva S. Balogh :
    Ron and Turkmenbas: I have the feeling that you are talking about the same guy. Most likely someone made a typo: instead of 1937 he wrote 1947. The biographies are practically identical.
    Judging from I.Cs’s early pictures, I assume that the correct date is 1937.

    Ron and Éva: I met the guy we are talking about at a party some 4 years ago, so I know how he looks like. That is him:

    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=csizmadia+l%C3%A1szl%C3%B3&num=10&hl=hu&biw=1270&bih=627&tbm=isch&tbnid=aoxq94mkD8-HEM:&imgrefurl=http://www.magyarhullam.eu/hirek/15/Tiltakoztunk&docid=iek1ntCb_2ySgM&imgurl=http://www.magyarhullam.eu/uvs/galeria/Image/szlovak/_Csizmadia%252520Laszlo_465.jpg&w=465&h=309&ei=ZJuKUMzYNcTntQbf94HACA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=486&vpy=159&dur=2318&hovh=183&hovw=276&tx=92&ty=107&sig=109933348573309754814&page=1&tbnh=142&tbnw=235&start=0&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:75

  15. Turkmenbas. You are right about that “your Csizmadia” is the one who was one of the organizers of the March. But the two cv’s are so similar. Both teach at the same college?

  16. Eva: One cannot help but suspect that all these foundations and channels serve mainly to obscure the true source of the funds.

    I went to the COV website, and all pictures, video’s, newspapers and websites are somehow linked. Every time I see the same back on other websites. From the COV I am going to the Polgari, and via Magyar Nemzet I am back to COV. Unbelievable it is like a carousel.

    Also I believe there are two Cs.L. Here is an interview (in Hungarian) apparently published in napi.hu http://www.betex.hu/hu/history?id=9 In this interview it is said he is 62 years old.

  17. Mesquita – Dictator’s Handbook, p.18.

    “Rule 3: Control the flow of revenue. It’s always better for a ruler to determine
    who eats than it is to have a larger pie from which the people
    can feed themselves. The most effective cash flow for leaders is one
    that makes lots of people poor and redistributes money to keep select
    people—their supporters—wealthy.”

  18. There’s some wishful thinking in this article and the comments. There is genuine support for Fidesz, and just because the marchers were well financed or have suspicious financing, that doesn’t mean the opposition should rest on their laurels.

    Bajnai’s approach seems better: The Hungarian left is a proud part of the Hungarian tradition, and the left should celebrate that, and not just cede Hungarian patriotism to Fidesz. So what if Fidesz had a well-organized, well financed march? The more important issue for the opposition is to motivate the non-committed voters and, if there’s any time left over, to chip away at the Fidesz base.

    Fidesz can sometime make the same mistake, proclaiming that the left is funded by Soros and his buddies. I don’t think that sort of rhetoric will convince non-committed voters either.

  19. Eva S. Balogh :
    Turkmenbas. You are right about that “your Csizmadia” is the one who was one of the organizers of the March. But the two cv’s are so similar. Both teach at the same college?

    Éva: Ron’s Csizmadia indeed teaches at a college (Vendéglátóipari Főiskola). Mine / our Csizmadia does not teach there, he only graduated there. For the last 15 years he has been the CEO of Béndek Zrt.

  20. LL: “Fidesz loves, just loves to employ people who have some kind of connection to the old security services. ”

    Yes, exactly. We shall keep in mind that these Fidesz boys were recruited 20 years ago by István Stumpf, the son-in-law of the last communist interior minister.

    Orbán himself was youth communist leader of his secondary school in Székesfehérvár. While usually these young commie Führers got to this position at the age of 17-18, Orbán managed to capture this rank at the age of 16. You can imagine how dedicated he must have been!!!!!

  21. @Ron: Great idea… I guess they want to make sure that people only hear good news about the weather from now on 🙂 It’s always sunny in Orbanistan!

  22. Ron :
    Sorry to be OT. But it seems that Hungary’s weather forecast will be a state monopoly in future.
    http://www.politics.hu/20121026/ministry-drafting-bill-to-ban-private-weather-forecasts/

    I was just about to post that too. Of course they have a reason… as always.
    Private retirement savings nationalized – check
    News provided by the state only – check
    Land leases given out to Fidesz friends only – check
    Weather forecast provided by the state only – check
    Schools are taken back by the state – check
    Silencing of opposition news/radio -working on it
    National Bank reserves – ?

  23. Ron :
    Eva: One cannot help but suspect that all these foundations and channels serve mainly to obscure the true source of the funds.
    I went to the COV website, and all pictures, video’s, newspapers and websites are somehow linked. Every time I see the same back on other websites. From the COV I am going to the Polgari, and via Magyar Nemzet I am back to COV. Unbelievable it is like a carousel.
    Also I believe there are two Cs.L. Here is an interview (in Hungarian) apparently published in napi.hu http://www.betex.hu/hu/history?id=9 In this interview it is said he is 62 years old.

    On September 27, 2012 at 9:58 am, #31 I wrote about how one Fidesz organization support the others. They work as a small money laundering production line, sucking up the 1% taxes and funnelling money to one organization to another…..

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