Fidesz is working on a new “surveillance” scandal. This is not the first time that Fidesz claims that its politicians have been spied on. In 1998, a couple of months after the formation of the first Orbán government, Viktor Orbán made a dramatic announcement in parliament: MSZP while in power ordered national security officials to spy on Fidesz politicians. After months of investigation it turned out to be a hoax. Something similar is under way at the moment. This time the targets are György Szilvásy, former minister without portfolio in charge of national security, and the former head of the National Security Office Sándor Laborc.
Szilvásy has been under attack for a number of years, starting with his role in the UD Zrt. affair. For details on this very complicated story you should read some of my earlier posts. Szilvásy and his co-defendants were found not guilty of the charges a few months ago, but the prosecutors appealed the case. So, Szilvásy and the other defendants are back in court.
Szilvásy was also accused of being involved, along with Sándor Laborc, in “spying for Russia.” As far as I know, this case is still on the docket.
And now here is this new “case.” Thus, one must come to the conclusion that for one reason or other high-ranking Fidesz politicians would dearly love to see Szilvásy in jail. The reason seems pretty obvious to me. Fidesz bigwigs suspect that György Szilvásy and Sándor Laborc know more about them than is desirable from their point of view. And I’m sure that they do. For the time being their lips are sealed because, after all, these pieces of information are considered to be state secrets.
A couple of days ago Heti Válasz published an article claiming that there is proof that Tamás Portik, a businessman whose wealth originally came from questionable sources but who lately has been involved only in legitimate businesses, was instructed by Laborc to spy on Fidesz politicians. The paper claimed that an audio recording of the conversation exists in the archives of the National Security Office, now called Alkotmányvédelmi Hivatal (AVH). (What an unfortunate name. Its abbreviation is the same as that of the infamous Államvédelmi Hatóság of the Rákosi period.) The Heti Válasz article was entitled “Szilvásy by night” because Portik’s business activities centered around night clubs and restaurants.
Magyar Nemzet elaborated on the case. It was Szilvásy who ordered Laborc to get in touch with Portik. Portik was instructed to collect and create information against the leaders of Fidesz. Portik in exchange wanted to remove those police officers whom the businessman found objectionable because they interfered with his illegal activities. The specific targets were Lajos Kósa, Antal Rogán, and János Lázár. László Kövér and Viktor Orbán were not mentioned.
Both Laborc and Szilvásy deny the charges and plan to sue Heti Válasz and Magyar Nemzet. Laborc called attention to the absurdity of the charge because the audio recording was done at his insistence by an officer of the National Security Office. It would be mighty strange to have instructed Portik to commit illegal acts under these circumstances. According to Szilvásy, the whole story as told by the two pro-government papers is a pack of lies. It is true, says Szilvásy, that he asked Laborc to get in touch with Portik because he was informed that Portik apparently had information on Hungarian organized crime and wanted to get in touch with someone from the National Security Office. Laborc after talking to Portik decided not to follow up because the information Portik provided was vague and not well founded.
Szilvásy floated the possibility that this latest “surveillance” affair is part of Fidesz in-fighting. He wondered why these three politicians’ names were mentioned and continued: “the possibility cannot be excluded that certain Fidesz leaders think that we found out something about these three that they can use in their internal struggles. Of course, it is also possible that they are trying another tact since all their other trumped-up charges have failed.”
Heti Válasz immediately came out with an opinion piece by András Stumpf who is supposed to be one of the more moderate members of the paper’s staff. Well, this time he went over the top. The title was “It will be the student canteen too!” At first the title was incomprehensible to me until I found out that one of the two meetings between the NBH officials and Portik took place in a restaurant called “Menza” on Ferenc Liszt Square. Stumpf makes this Menza sound like a Michelin four-star restaurant, but one can have a very nice meal there for under 1,000 forints. (Today’s menu is “Hungarian bean soup” and “layered crepes” which sounds pretty good to me.)
Stump continued his rant by stating that “the Zsolt Bayer in me” is certain that Szilvásy and Laborc are “filth, traitors, mafiosos, garbage, prolik.” This last word is the abbreviation of proletárok, i.e. low-class people. And the Menza? He hopes that these two men will spend the rest of their lives in jail where there is a canteen too. Admittedly, the food there will not be as good as at Menza but “surely one can get used to it.” He will be glad to pay the cost of their food in jail.
As far as Stump is concerned, Bayer should have refrained from writing about Gypsy crime on January 5. If he had just waited a couple of weeks he could have written an article in very much the same vein but with more justification about the Szilvásy-Laborc case. Today’s opposition leaders “are so sensitive when they feel that democracy is being threatened” from the right or when “they demand that Viktor Orbán distance himself from Zsolt Bayer,” but they are less critical of their own behavior. Yes, if local Fidesz politicians cheated in Kiskunfélegyháza–as was reported a couple of days ago–they should be punished. “But this case is much more weighty. This story is so weighty that it immediately drags Hungarian democracy to the very bottom of public life.” Stumpf makes these accusations without actually knowing what is on the tape.
And if that weren’t enough, Stumpf fired a last volley, this time at Ferenc Gyurcsány who like others at the demonstration in front of Fidesz headquarters demanded Bayer’s removal from Fidesz and carried a sign saying “I’m a Gypsy.” So, wrote Stumpf: “No, Ferenc, you are not. I’m not either but I object in the name of all Gypsies. They have enough problems; they really shouldn’t have to apologize for you as well.”
Yet another Zsolt Bayer. They are multiplying.
Kingfisher mentioned the Karla trilogy in the previous post. This really starts looking like the story. We have Planet Hungary Circus, Control, Chief of the Circus, Moscow Spymasters, Matolcsy the Tinkerer, eavesdroppers, lots of moles and six cylinder hoods.
Get your popcorn!
“… filth, traitors, mafiosos, garbage, prolik…”
The Roman “proles” were those who had nothing else but their off-spring. Some of the Fidész people have multiplied more than the average. In essence, this is an apt description of Orbánistan.
As far as I know, Portik was arrested for his part in murder cases ( Fenyő, Seres etc.)
This Szilvásy and Laborc case seems to be a totally different case. I have the suspicion that there was some kind of plea bargain between Portik and the police or who knows.
Éva: I am a bit puzzled by your post. How do you know for sure that it is another hoax?
Fact is that National Security Office head Laborc met twice mafia boss Portik in a restaurant, at the request of Szilvásy. This is also reported as a fact by the opposition press:
We do not yet for know sure what they had actually discussed. The second eeting had lasted for more than two hours..
Meanwhile, when was the last time an FBI head dined twice with an influential mafia boss?
(1) HVG simply repeated what had appeared in Magyar Nemzet. And we know how reliable that paper is.
(2). I can very easily imagine an FBI officer having conversations with a mafia man.
I can re-call that Sandor Pinter had something to do with as well. In fact I believe his ties were much stronger than Laborc and Szilvasy.
But why do they bring it up now? The evidence is not new, so can it be a distraction for example negotiation with IMF. Is something else going on we do not know about?
(1) HVG simply repeated what was reported by Népszabadság and Magyar Nemzet.
(2) I simply can not imagine that a US Justice Minister would dare to instruct the head of FBI to dine with a mafia boss.
Please, his seems to me Kövér’s mania. As was mentioned, Fidesz, especially Orbán and Kövér are a bit overly fascinated by the intelligence services. Although they are right in the sense that they always took big advantage of its networks (they always opposed publicizing the agents’ names much more than MSZP, as they feared that a former agency for a right-wing person is a worse embarracement and they would lose their power to blackmail people and gain quasi-exclusive info from the networks). If you looked hard enough, many names in the current top governmental positions were either cooperators or real professionals of the services, probably keeping their handled networks to this day (although the former cooperators now give info on an informal, ‘friendly’ basis). This is quite open, if one checks even public documents, although journalist don’t do it. Fidesz was very successful in reorganizing the prosecution (by the way, prosecution too has a number of former ‘policemen’ who gained a law degree recently, in its ranks, which has obviously a different organisational culture from the courts for example), but due to the very nature of the intellegince service, one cannot be sure that that people working there can be trusted completely. So Kövér is trying to make sure that Kövér and Fidesz completely owns the intelligence services, this Szilvásya-Laborcz thing seems to me part of these efforts.They try to wear down Szilvásy and Laborcz with these proceedings, which is a message that they (SZ-L) are now untouchables and if someone – in the the future – tried to block Fidesz’ direct access to the services (when Fidesz would be opposition, that is, Fidesz needs a complete and continuous access at all times, which Laborcz and Szilvásy denied to them), they will suffer the same fate.
Nepszabadasg and HVG are not in a position to independently verify information regarding these issues, and they will print stuff even if they get it from Fidesz sources, although in many cases they have no idea who the source is. And Fidesz, is very adept, at using disinformation and generally using the media to its advantage. Just today Fidesz said “people would suffer with Bajnai’s 30% decrease of the mininal wage, it would counter all the achievements of the government”. It sounded like a nice rational counter-argument, but the funny thing was that there was no idea from Bajnai to cut the minimim wage at all, this is pure disinformation from Fidesz.
You don’t get a pundit’s job at Heti Válasz, which is just as much a party mouth piece as is Magyar Nemzet, without being 100% loyal. A pundit can be a bit critical from time to time (his credibility in the eyes of non-Fidesz people is actually enhanced by this), some articles are forgiven, but on the serious issues and Kövér’s ideas on national security and owning certain organisations are one of those, you do what is expected.That is your job and you don’t forget it for a second why you are there. Moreover Stumpf is also a ‘believer’, similar to journalists Hungary had in the fifties who practiced communisma as a secular religion, Being a Fidesz person is also about living a Fidesz life, it is part of your identity, not a rational thing to be questioned and criticized.
Thanks for your interesting insights into the minds of Fidesz people! I especially like your last sentence:
“Being a Fidesz person is also about living a Fidesz life, it is part of your identity, not a rational thing to be questioned and criticized.”
Yes, it seems to be a kind of quasi-religion!
@wolfi: “Yes, it seems to be a kind of quasi-religion!”
For the true believers, it’s a cult. For the rest, it’s a quasi-maffia to grab money.
Unless s/he is undercover…
I have no doubt, that this is nothing but another attempt to drag Gyurcsány down by any means. For some reason Viktor The Great can not sleep well as long as his – so far – toughest adversary alive and kicking, or at least free.
A rather unfortunate fact, that dear Viktor isn’t clever enough to make it work, or isn’t wise enough to let it go, he has to prove, that his opponent is a ‘criminal’ at any price.
Unfortunate I say, because this wild goose chase cost a wast amount of money, and the only result it produces is that the otherwise already fully devoted Fidesz morons feel reinforced in their belief, nothing more. To the rest of the population it gives a rather unpleasant ‘déjà vu’ feeling and the appalling sentiments what comes with.
Wrong idea, in short.
An alternative possibility regarding the comment of Turkmenbasi:
What about, if he has met twice with the ‘maffia boss’ in order to get information regarding national interest? How, and on what basis you, the press or anyone for that matter dare to guess or/and speculate, that the topic was nothing else, but a conspiracy against the otherwise impeccable leaders of Fidesz, and not about – say – the bribery and money laundering activities of business conglomerates, what otherwise also unheard of, but still…?
What I saying is that there are definitely is more then one way to see things, isn’t it?
– Or the old and trusty solution kicked in again: “I already made up my mind and formed my opinion, so please, don’t disturb me with facts”..?
Portik must have had good connections to intelligence agencies all along. This is clear from news reportings, which state this unanimously, that whenever there was an investigation involving Portik somehow he was always helped. The police investigators got calls from the intelligence services indicating that Portik was an information source. At least that was told to police officers, Portik might just have those intelligence people on his payroll and had them talk to the police;but he could have actually been an agent (who was palying his handlers) or a combination of the two. These things can never be known for certain.
Now Porik is in custody in connection with various organised crime murders. He will say whatever he is asked to say and will take any testimony he is asked to reach a deal with the prosecution (ie Orbán’s people) in order to get away at some point (maybe in 5-8 years time, but to avoid a life sentence). That the prosecution asks for incriminating evidence is I guess clear by now. It does not matter if it is not (or cannot realistically be) corraborated, a testimony made in custody is absolutely enough to get others named in that testimony into pretrial detention (in other words get jailed for 6-12 months) and an inclusion into a criminal trial lasting for 8-10 years (the famous Kulcsár-case will start anew at first instance sometime this year, after starting first ten years ago,and there will likely be two appeals).
There was reporting of the UD Zrt. (the company which employed former and now currentintelligence officers loyal to Fidesz and was trying to get involved into MDF’s election) data protection case, now at appeal, by Index, which article talked about this Kafkaesque matter; the first verdict condemned the prosecution which clearly wanted to drag MDF leaders into a completely baseless and preposterous matter. But they will go to (as they have been in the last three years) court for a couple of months (although this will be likely affirmed and closed by the year-end, I assume).
The prosecution is the fist of the party, always have been, always will be (and I don’t mean the MSZP, who have no serious lawyers, as was mentioned, and with which I completely agree, they are a party of highschool teachers and economists).
Imagine me pressing a ‘like’ button.
I’m back to Paul again! I have no idea what’s going on with my avatar/name.
It seems the prosecution is everywhere disfunctional (to say the least): remember Aaron Schwartz who was driven to sucide by the probability of an effective life sentence and financial bankruptcy for a victimless crime. And what about Manning?
Yes, exactly. Portik was involved in oil bleaching in the 1990s, a business strictly controlled by the underworld and influential politicians.
A key player in this field was József Csikós, head of the Interior Ministry’s Secret Archives (!!) during the Kádár era. After the change of regime, Csikós was appointed CEO of Energol Rt. a key player of oil bleaching.
Banana republic in action:
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