I finished the first part of my story on the 2006 Budapest riots with some finger pointing. I shared József Debreczeni’s strong suspicion that it was Imre Szekeres and two of his close associates in the top leadership of the Hungarian Socialist Party who were responsible for passing the audio recording of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech in Balatonőszöd to Fidesz politicians.
Some readers of Hungarian Spectrum suggested the very unlikely possibility that Gyurcsány himself leaked the recording, but there is far too much contrary evidence. We have enough information even today to allow us to more or less follow the path of the tape from MSZP headquarters to Fidesz.
Let’s start with what transpired a few hours before the release of the recording on September 17, 2006. Around 2 p.m. a man arrived on a motorcycle, handed Balázs Weyer, the editor-in-chief of Origo, an envelope, and quickly disappeared. Weyer later stated that he couldn’t identify the man. As we know from Attila Rajnai, an investigative journalist who published an article about the case in Élet és Irodalom (May 25, 2007), while Weyer was playing soccer in the morning people from Magyar Rádió and RTL-Klub were looking for him. Their message was that they had something that would be the big news story of the day. But Origo was late with the news. Weyer got a CD of the entire three-hour meeting in mp3 form. At first he had no idea what it was all about or where and when it was recorded. All that took time to figure out. In the meantime he tried to ascertain what passages were worth publishing. And before publishing the material, he phoned Emese Danks, the Gyurcsány government’s spokeswoman at the time, asking about the authenticity and the details of the recording. She confirmed that they knew about the leak but for the time being they didn’t want to make any statement.
So, yes, Gyurcsány’s office knew about the CD, but I suspect that they found out about it only a few hours before the actual broadcast of the incriminating passages. Although József Debreczeni doesn’t mention it in his book, A 2006-os ősz, I distinctly remember reading an article which described the confusion that reigned in the prime minister’s office. They had no idea what speech was in question. They didn’t remember any unusual speech. Obviously to MSZP MPs it was just one speech among many. They didn’t attach any great significance to it.
Another copy was delivered, also by a motorcyclist, to Péter Uj, the editor-in-chief of Index. Earlier he received a telephone call at home from someone who didn’t introduce himself but who used the informal form of address. The person announced that he had important information for him. Where should the messenger to be sent? Uj thought it was a joke. But about an hour later, at four o’clock in the afternoon, the messenger arrived and handed him a package. At that very moment György Such, the president of Magyar Rádió, phoned him and told him to turn the radio on. To this day we have no idea who these messengers were. Certainly not employees of a professional messenger service. Attila Rajnai, the journalist, checked that aspect of the story thoroughly and came up empty handed.
However, later investigations revealed that prior to September 17 some of the incriminating parts of Gyurcsány’s speech had already been circulating among right-leaning information specialists. E-mails went back and forth between eastern Hungary and Budapest. Someone also sent this material to a Hungarian, György T., working in Mexico at the time, on either September 12 or 13. He forwarded it to at least twenty of his friends. Subsequently György T. returned to Hungary and told Rajnai that he had indeed sent the information on to others, but he refused to reveal the exact source of the message. He did, however, indicate that the man from whom he got the material was also sympathetic to right-wing politics.
In Fidesz circles the word was that “our friends in Debrecen were the first ones who learned about [the speech’s contents].” Rajnai talked to some information technologists in Debrecen who worked for the City Hall of Debrecen, but they refused to answer his questions. So, the investigative journalist lost the thread in Debrecen.
It seems that the Office of National Security, which was entrusted with investigating the case, got a bit farther. Debreczeni quotes from Ferenc Gyurcsány’s letter to Attila Mesterházy that outlined his suspicions about the three leading MSZP politicians who might have been responsible for the leak. “The Office of National Security questioned many people and performed many technical investigations…. A few things surfaced. For example, that the material got to Budapest from the Office of the Mayor of a Fidesz-led city on the Great Plains.” We are talking here about Debrecen and Lajos Kósa. That this was indeed the case is reinforced by our knowledge that the telephone calls announcing the arrival of the CDs came from Debrecen.
Debreczeni’s theory is that the approximate content and perhaps even the most damaging details of the speech were known to the Fidesz leadership already prior to July 22 when Viktor Orbán made his speech in Tusnádfürdő, Romania. He called on the Hungarians to gather on Heroes’ Square on September 23 to fight “against the lies of the dictatorship.” It was a proclamation entitled “Good morning, Hungary!” However, Debreczeni continues, the complete audio recording arrived in Debrecen’s City Hall only later.
To the best of our knowledge the intermediary in that transaction was Eduardo Rózsa-Flores! Familiar name? You may recall that in April 2009 he, a Bolivian by birth but a Hungarian citizen, tried to assassinate the Bolivian president. Soon after his arrival in the country he was killed by Bolivian commandos. I wrote about him twice: “The Hungarian far-right in Bolivia–Eduardo Rózsa-Flores,” and again a day later in a post entitled “The psyche of an ‘anarchist’: Eduardo Rózsa-Flores.”
A close associate of Rózsa-Flores was Zoltán Brády, editor-in-chief of Kapu, a far-right publication. After Rózsa-Flores’s death Brády gave an interview to MTI in which “he admitted that they–Brády and Rózsa-Flores–were the ones who leaked the speech in Őszöd…. However, he didn’t say where they got it from and to whom they passed it on.”
We do know where the recording ended up and, thanks to an interview with Brády on MTV, we even know that the source was one of the leading members of MSZP. On April 19, 2009, Brády was interviewed by Szilvia Krizsó on A szólás szabadsága (Freedom of speech) where the following dialogue took place:
Zoltán Brády: Eduardo managed to get that piece of evidence.
Krizsó Szilvia: But how?
ZB: He received it.
KSz: But from whom?
ZB: You don’t think that I will tell you that!
KSz: Of course, I do.
ZB: OK, I will tell you as much as that it was from the MSZMP, forgive me…
KSz: You mean MSZP.
ZB: MSZP, doesn’t matter, from the leadership of MSZP.
When Debreczeni inquired from Gyurcsány whether any surveillance was conducted against Imre Szekeres, or whoever X was, the answer was a definite no. After all, it would have been against the law. However, Rózsa-Flores was naturally under surveillance and there the Office of National Security encountered the names of some parliamentary politicians. One high-level national security officer came across, for example, the names of Viktor Orbán and László Kövér while investigating Rózsa-Flores’s highly suspicious activities. The investigators even opened separate files for them with the names of “Bajusz” (mustache) and “Ovi” (abbreviation of óvoda/kindergarten). More can be read about this in the October 11, 2011 issue of Heti Válasz, a pro-Fidesz publication.
The Office of National Security even placed an undercover agent in Rózsa-Flores’s circle, but before that person managed to find out the name of the MSZP politician who passed the copy of the recording to Rózsa-Flores, he died in Bolivia and his secret with him.
I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Gyurcsany made a speech appealing to the better natures–if such a thing exists–of MSZP politicians. He used the collective ‘we’ in referring to them all. Now, there’s a standard rule on sinners–if they confess willingly, you can trust them thereafter, no matter what. Knowing little about Hungarian politics at the time, I thought that, if anything, Gyurcsany is to be trusted for having come clean. Of course, in politics, coming clean is not approved by all, especially by those who profit in the dark and in criminality. Gyurcsany’s call to reform was anathema to the corrupt power structure of MSZP, and as I have noted in the past, nothing can be worse for the political criminal than to be at the seat of power but hindered in his nefarious activities. Such the worries of the leakers: better to make a deal with Fidesz than to usher in a Savanarola. So far, this all plays out quite clearly. What the leakers and their ilk didn’t count on was the resurrection of Gyurcsany and the creation of a new party from MSZP ranks which clearly showed, as nothing else could, that those who remained behind were all the tainted remnants of those who engineered Gyurcsany’s fall and hence, logically, belong, one and all, to the criminal gang that is MSZP.
Sic transit Politicum Hungaricum.
Petőfi: Where you are wrong IMHO, that Gyurcsány didn’t come clean willingly. He shouldn’t have come clean to the Hungarian Socialist Party, but to the Hungarian people. If it was up to him this recording would have never seen the light. You can’t become “rablóból pandúr” (a cop from being a robber) overnight without accepting your punishment. If he made this speech before the election and run an honest campaign, or after the election and then resign, I’d be amongst his most ardent supporters to this day. Maybe he would have lost an election, but he would have retained his face/credibility and dignity. Maybe we would have had Viktor Orbán back in power in 2006 (but definitely not with a supermajority). We might actually be over him by now…
From what I gather, Gyurcsany wasn’t all that bothered that the speech came out. After all, there was nothing wrong with it; that is, until the Fidesz lie-merchants and Orban got to work on the sad-sack, Hungarian mind. Most mentally balanced listeners would’ve taken it for a ‘mea culpa’ and nothing more; and that is generally a healthy thing.
What I find interesting is how easily the Orban brigade could twist the words, and have them find their way into the believing minds of Hungarians.
Let us replace all Hungarians with cloned Petofis.
Are there any other ways left to inject some sense into the Hungarian people?
Balavany is perhaps the first successfully cloned Petofi:
Father Placid can be the other one, to be cloned widely.
Finally, this is the link for Balavany: http://balavanyposzt.blog.hu/
Prick a Hungarian and you’ll find 24 carat Pride.
I have not read the book. But Szekeres has always been very mercurial and ambitious. When Gyula Horn had a car accident back in 1994, he (Szekeres) immediately assumed the position of heir apparent obviously in the hope that Horn would not survive. Also interestingly, Szekeres kept a very low profile during the last years.
All that said, the whole speech could not have been very important if Fidesz (with the help of Szekeres and other MSZP figures such as Puch — who, mind you, has always been in direct contact with the top echelon of Fidesz with respect to at least the division of moneys from the highway construction and the like) did not prepare for it. Even Gyurcsány’ circle did not initially know which speech of the many Gyurcsány gave could be problematic. It will be interesting to see if Szekeres would sue Debreczeni for libel (I bet not).
The speech also assumed extreme importance (to media people) because of its sinister way of delivery to top journalist. Hyping itself makes something important (as “celebrities” assume status by just being celeberities shown in media day after day).
I would also venture that Flores, with the help of extreme right wingers and perhaps elements from the state security services sympathetic to Kövér and Orbán, was preparing for the October 23-2 craziness. After all, he was a professional trouble maker being happiest during what he precieved as “action”. What I heard from media companies (and that may be in the book) is that they were warned in advance that at the TV headquarters there will be huge events.
The big question is the consequence. Puch and others realized that that they were taken advantage of. In effect, the leak was tantamount to shooting themselves in the foot.
It is inconcieveable that Szekeres could have any serious position, Puch effectively resigned — partly because Fidesz, betrayed them. MSZP, with its hopeless naivity, always assumed they could agree with Fidesz and since they delivered when MSZP was in power (Simicska’s companies were receiveing huge state business) Fidesz would also give some busness to MSZP-related companies. No such luck. With 2/3 Fidesz does what they want and they take no prisoners. Mesterházy to a certain extent is beholden to the old guard (Kiss, Lendvai etc.) and he needs to be diplomatic, but otherwise he himself is angry at Fidesz’s huge win instigated by pathetic MSZP politicians (like Szekeres).
I assume Orbán and Kövér were having great fun with this project, which were a result of MSZP infightings. Another argument why party loyalty and reliability is paramoount to Orbán.
By the way the BKV scandals (with a number of MSZP-SZDSZ people getting put behind bars for certain periods) just before the elections were also said to be the result of MSZP infinghtings and not initiated by Fidesz. Fidesz only has to wait until the MSZP people kill each other.
If we follow Jano’s logic we can ask: “when will Viktor Orbán resign and face the nation?” Because he has lied through at least the last ten years. I think actually that he should resign right now!
Would you mind to elaborate a bit on that ‘robber’ part, please?
I keep hearing from the devoted supporters of Orbán, that “Gyurcsány robbed the country” and “he stole our money”, but never anything substantial. I allow, that there could be some problem with my hearing, so please, enlight me, what punishment should have he received and for what reason?
Thank you in advance!
I agree with Spectator: I’d like to hear about the ‘thefts’ of Gyurcsany, too.
‘Here, Schiffer-puddy-tat, come here now and tell us…’
The thing about lying is that you need to prepare for it, as timing is very important in politics and you need people who are really upset about it, as though they are really suprised about the lying. Right now the notion that Orbán has been lying and that is a problem will not get a politician very far. The political environment has not been prepared, as Orbán prepared it 6 years ago; granted the general population was in a different mood (but of course it was the extreme right wing, who did not vote for Gyurcsány anyway, who was “upset”, ie took the opportunity to set some buildings afire). To win against Orbán, one needs to be smarter than that.
Pektin, I agree. Timing and preparation is very important. And Orbán prepared it between July and September. I will give a summary of this preparation today.
OT: My father went for a walk at 10:30 AM. He walked by the Corvin. THe line-up for free food distributed by the Krishnas were already went as far as further than the Rokus church (300m). Food distribution started at 1PM. According to ATV, those who got in line at 11AM, were served at 5 PM. THat is how long the line became. A caller to ATV said that Orban should of gone and do his National Consultation with those in the line, and he could of saved all the printing and mailing cost.
Eva: “If we follow Jano’s logic we can ask: “when will Viktor Orbán resign and face the nation?” Because he has lied through at least the last ten years. I think actually that he should resign right now!”
So let’s follow my logic and hope that will happen sooner than later! Unfortunately, I’m rather pessimistic about that..
Rablóból pandúr is a Hungarian saying. I just literal translated it. My point was that you can’t just say “I’ve been doing things so wrong (even if I wasn’t alone) but right now I’m changing so just trust me on that and by the way I refuse to suffer any consequences of my earlier wrongdoings.
My impression is that you are a Hungarian speaker in which case I can’t believe you haven’t heard the phrase “rablóból pandúr”. I hope you’re not just trolling me.
There are several interpretations of the “we have been lying” phrase. Those who are inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to Gy. interpret it as applying to the whole political elite. After all, both sides were promising all sorts of things that they most likely knew couldn’t be fulfilled. Recall that Orbán promised 14th month pension during the campaign and now complains that Bajnai had to take back the earlier irresponsible 13th month’s amount because of lack of funds. One could ask: why don’t they give back the 13th month pension Bajnai took away and why not add another month worth as promised in 2006. We know why!
Irresponsible promises all around and in fact, the MSZP-SZDSZ side promised a great deal less than Fidesz-KDNP.
“Irresponsible promises all around” – exactly. I agree the Fidesz campaign was hilarious too if not more hilarious, giant posters about how bad the economy had been doing (“we are worse off than 4 years ago”) and promises that implicitly assumed that the economy was making Switzerland humble at the same time.
Thanks for the answer.
However, your answer still hasn’t helped to clear up the orbanist mud regarding the alleged sins of Gyurcsány – ‘wrongdoings’ as you phrased – which certainly is missing from the equation.
You see, in order to “refuse to suffer any consequences of [..] earlier wrongdoings” there should be some record of those “wrongdoings” – don’t you think?
It isn’t harder than this:
“He has done …………., so, the penalty in my opinion should be ……….”
If you’d be so kind and fill the gaps, we all would benefit of the revelation: finally we managed to learn, just what “sins” has Gyurcsány committed, what should result a certain ‘punishment’ what you referring to.
It certainly would help a great deal to see a clear picture in this mess, otherwise I may even be forced to think, that you have no proof of any ‘wrongdoings’ what should be ‘punished’, just repeating the usual Fidesz bullshit – which would be most unfortunate, let’s face it…!
Éva: “There are several interpretations of the “we have been lying” phrase. Those who are inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to Gy. interpret it as applying to the whole political elite.”
That is what I tend to believe as well. – But the way he said it and the way this was exploited by Orbán – with all MSZP defences down – shows that this impulsive speech was a political mistake.
But given the nature of MSZP, something like that would have occurred sooner or later, anyway. Unless the MSZP re-invents itself as a European mainstream social-democratic party (not like Hollande’s socialists), they won’t get anywhere. In fact, even today they share some responsibility for having let Orbán get that far.
“Trolling you?” Is that a fishing term?
No, I haven’t heard the term, but then…I was 7 years old when I left in 1956; and such terms didn’t appear in my monthly Sakkelet!
Fully agree with you. A huge political mistake for which we are still paying. Not just Gyurcsány who ruined a very promising political career but the whole country. You are also right that Gyurcsány was far too forward looking and the old guard was not only not ready for him and the reforms he wanted to introduce but they wanted to get rid of him. Well, they succeeded but at what price.
Petőfi: “No, I haven’t heard the term, but then…I was 7 years old when I left in 1956; and such terms didn’t appear in my monthly Sakkelet!
In this case, my bad, I’m sorry!
Spectator: I’m referring to what Gyurcsány was admitting. Even if we accept the lenient interpretation of the Öszöd speech, i.e. that Gyurcsány was talking about the whole political elite, he was an inherent part of that in the previous four years, two of which he spent as a prime minister, the position with the biggest responsibility. Again if I want to be lenient with him and say that Orbán started the promise war, he played along instead of trying to run an honest campaign.
“Nyilvánvalóan végighazudtuk az utolsó másfél-két évet. Teljesen világos volt, hogy amit mondunk, az nem igaz. Annyival vagyunk túl az ország lehetőségein, hogy mi azt nem tudtuk korábban elképzelni, hogy ezt a Magyar Szocialista Párt és a liberálisok közös kormányzása valaha is megteszi.”
“We obviously lied throughout the last 1.5-2 years . It was absolutely obvious, that what we were saying is not true.” (Second sentence referring to MSZP and SZDSZ going beyond the countries capabilities that “we” (GYF+whoever he means) could have never even imagined.
Too bad he was such a coward, I’m pretty positive that he would have had a chance in the honest way too, Instead, he wanted to win that election so badly that he willingly let the country drift for two very expensive years:
“És közben egyébként nem csináltunk semmit négy évig. Semmit. Nem tudtok mondani olyan jelentős kormányzati intézkedést, amire büszkék lehetünk, azon túl, hogy a szarból visszahoztuk a kormányzást a végére.”
“We didn’t do anything for for four years. Nothing. You can’t point to a single action of the government we can be proud of besides getting the governance back from shit by the end.”
(excerpts are from the Öszöd speech: http://nol.hu/archivum/archiv-417593)
I’m being very lenient with Gyurcsány here compared to what I actually think and just focusing on 2004-2006. Even with this setting I think that these are indeed sins not excusable by what Viktor Orbán was entertaining himself with at the time.
@ Jano. “We didn’t do anything for for four years. Nothing. You can’t point to a single action of the government we can be proud of…”
That’s almost what Gy. said. Yes. But you shouldn’t forget four things:
(a) Whatever attempt at reforms was undertaken by Gy. (for which he even had to fight in his own party) was blocked or revoked by Orbán (by vote, by referendum, you name it). As we can see now, not on principle but only for political gain.
(b) In 1989, Orbán went on a Soros scholarship (“Jewish money”) to Oxford where he learned his faltering English. In 1992 he was elected vice-chairman of the Liberal International. Only eight years later, in 2000, he and his party became “conservative” and Orbán was again elected vice-chairman – this time of the European People’s Party, quite an unholy Christian-populist retro-bunch. One of his early friends who went to America described the reason for this switch in political orientation: “We have to see that there is a huge untapped voter reservoir on the right and the extreme right. And this is where we’ll go to find our votes.” These weren’t the words of a liar, but those of a man who wanted just one thing: power. And after eight years of planning he got it and secured it safely – until something untoward happens to him.
(c) The first Orbán government ended in empty koffers, illegal contracts with cronies, total corruption, administrative wildernis, the failed attempts at rewriting history – and shame. Gy. had to pick up from there, imagine. I am always bewildered when I see that almost everybody has forgotten all about 1998-2002 – quietly following Fidesz Newspeak about the last 20 years that were wasted before Orbán got his strange 2/3rds majority – with 54% of the votes. This ain’t so. During his first government and in opposition he clearly showed what he was up to. This is why I never gave him the benefit of the doubt and knew that he would ruin Hungary.
(d) Orbán shied parliamentary debate (because he is a bad debater and likes to wax patriotically elegic only amongst hand-picked ardent followers) and took his opposition to the street – which is deeply undemocratic.
Ceterum censeo: Orbán will be driven out by the street eventually.
I think I’ve got it.
Gyurcsány is guilty, because he admitted – in plural, mind you – lying and doing nothing, as opposed to countless others, who has done just about the same, albeit admitting it.
Actually I don’t think, that he meant the whole political establishment of the last twenty years, I think since he talked amongst his party caucus, he talked in plural, meaning them all together. As I mentioned earlier he’s been under constant pressure from the old-liners within his party, – they opposed everything remotely ‘reform’ – but without them he couldn’t do much.
So, as I see it, this speech was an attempt to shake them up to move forward.
One more thing: I am pretty sure, that it wasn’t his personal ambition, his ultimate dream to win the election in order to become PM in the second time – the inspiring factor was rather the unfinished business with those half-assed reforms, not to mention the rather naive loyalty to the party. On the other side, it was quite clear, that all too many of the old members held hard on their chairs, and stopped any attempt which would jeopardize their position – no ‘coming clear’ was allowed. Don’t forget, that the time of the events Gyurcsány was nearly completely alone within his party, who ever wanted any kind of change.
He is guilty – as I see -, though, not to leave them much earlier, before they totally eroded his credibility, he is guilty not ‘cleaning’ his party from the corrupt pigs and spineless ‘comrades’, yes, he has a few things, indeed.
Not to mention the biggest mistake, like taking the Fidesz as a civilized, European party, and their leader as another gentleman – that’s why he pays direly.
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