I’m in a real quandary. Someone complained that I didn’t mention the very successful Walk for Life on Sunday while somebody else suggested that I should say something about the case of Miklós Hagyó, former deputy mayor of Budapest who went all the way to the European Court of Justice about what he considered to be his illegal detention for nine months without being charged.
But in addition to these two topics there are others that should have been talked about. For example, the anti-Semitic Patriotic Bikers whose ride across Budapest took place even though they had been forbidden to do so by the police at the instruction of Viktor Orbán. Or, that an amendment to the law was passed that forbids the use of symbols associated with right or left dictatorships. And there are the latest Eurostat figures that show that Hungary’s deficit is lower than anyone expected. It is 1.9%!
However important and interesting these topics are, I think I ought to write about the so-called Portik-Laborc affair although I’m somewhat handicapped here because I didn’t follow the police investigation of the case of Tamás Portik, a well-known figure in the Budapest underworld. However, I knew that something was afoot in government circles to connect György Szilvásy, former minister without portfolio in charge of national security in the Gyurcsány government, and Sándor Laborc, head of the National Security Office, to Tamás Portik. It was more than a year ago that stories began to float about these two government officials having questionable dealings with a known criminal. I wrote about the story at the time in a post entitled “Another ‘surveillance’ case is being hatched by Fidesz.” It took more than a year, but now the bomb has been dropped.
Magyar Nemzet, which by now can safely be called the official paper of the Orbán government, managed to get hold of an edited transcript of a tape recording of two meetings between Laborc and Portik. According to the article that appeared in yesterday’s edition of the paper, Tamás Portik in 2008 was so terribly concerned about Fidesz winning the election in 2010 that he offered information on Fidesz politicians designed to help MSZP ruin Viktor Orbán’s party. According to Magyar Nemzet, Portik was allegedly worried that a future Fidesz government would pursue some of his earlier crimes. The article claims that the transcript in the paper’s possession clearly proves that there was “an intimate connection between the Gyurcsány government and the underworld.” A rather sweeping statement.
Today Magyar Nemzet published excerpts from the two meetings between Portik and Laborc. I should mention here that Szilvásy was told back in 2008 by a third person that Portik would like to get in touch with someone from the National Security Office because he had information about people who might be cause for concern. Szilvásy in turn got in touch with Laborc who pursued the lead. The excerpts Magyar Nemzet decided to publish are hard to follow. Most likely this was the paper’s intent. One doesn’t always know what the subject of the conversations between the two men really is. According to one reading of the text, Portik is offering dirt on certain Fidesz politicians that Laborc gratefully accepts; others view the conversation as an attempt on Laborc’s part to find out about the reliability of the informer.
Since then the text of the excerpts from the transcript has become available. This gives a somewhat clearer picture of what transpired at these two meetings between Laborc and Portik during the summer of 2008. The conversation begins with a discussion of the right-wing influence in the police force which “XXX directs.” Portik claims that the police are badgering him to give them incriminating information about leading member of MSZP. But at the same time he tells Laborc that he delivered cash to MSZP politicians, which might be true but might be merely a stratagem to establish his credibility. Let’s not forget that he is a criminal.
By the second conversation it looks as if cooperation between Portik and Laborc had been sealed. “It’s good that we found each other. Something serious may come of this,” says Laborc. This is followed up by an outline of the points of cooperation. “What interests us most is which politicians, judges, and prosecutors are under whose influence.” And, adds Portik, “perhaps the police.” Laborc agrees. On the surface this sounds fine. Laborc wants to find out about corruption and political influence in government offices. But when in the next sentence there is talk about catching people in a brothel it doesn’t sound so innocent. Laborc here gives the impression that he is trying to find dirt on men in the service of Fidesz.
Eventually Laborc even gave Portik his own secure cell phone number. Portik seemed to be very eager to cooperate because he was certain that he would end up in jail in case Fidesz wins the next election. Laborc interrupted him, saying that it is possible that “they will take me as well.” I assume he was thinking of the UD Zrt. case in which he ordered the monitoring of telephone conversations that included calls between Fidesz politicians and the men running UD Zrt. that was spying on the National Security Office’s activities. He was not far off in his prediction.
All in all, it looks pretty bad. The MSZP leadership seems to be split on the issue. According to Attila Mesterházy, “both the style and the content of the conversations are unacceptable.” On the other hand, Zsolt Molnár, MSZP chairman of the parliamentary committee on national security, who seems to have more information on the case because of his position, claims that Laborc’s conversation with Portik contains nothing that could be considered illegal. He was just doing his job.
Szilvásy pointed out in an interview on Klubrádió that the transcript about whose authenticity we know nothing is being used for political purposes. After all, said Szilvásy, if Laborc considered his conduct illegal he wouldn’t have ordered the conversations to be taped and transcribed. Laborc’s lawyer seems to know that the transcriptions are edited. The transcript of the first conversation, which lasted an hour and a half, took up 41 pages while only 24 pages of the second one, which was two and a half hours long, were published. On his client’s behalf he will demand to see the complete transcript. DK considers the released text “a complete jumble-mumble without names.” I tend to agree. Without the complete text we don’t really know what happened.
The Párbeszéd Magyarországért (PM) and LMP both demand setting up a parliamentary committee to investigate the case, but apparently Fidesz is not too eager to oblige. Only they know why.
Here is the official list of people and things that contributed to “20th century tyranny” in Hungary, therefore their name cannot be used for public places, institutions.
The list is silent about Horthy, Gombos, Teleki or Szalasi (!).
Anyone executed during their rule, on the other hand, became a banned name.
Ottokar Prohaszka is explcitly kosher, Leo Frankel escaped.
The list is silent about Istvan Tisza, but bans Mihaly Karolyi.
“Freedom” is permitted, but “liberation” is banned.
Click to access Onkenyuralmi_nevek_egyesitett_tabla.pdf
It is obvious from the list that only the left-wing 1919 Commune and the 1945-1990 period are considered dictatorships, the right-wing Horthy [and implicitly even the Szalasi] regimes are not.
The committee graciously permitted the further usage of the words “fejlődés” and “haladás” (development, progress). Bravo.
The words “constitution” and “republic” were also considered to be banned, but they escaped for the time being.
Banned: pioneer, council, Gorky, partisan, young worker, people.
Permitted: new world, new life, plan, Pushkin, worker.
The Orban-appointed majority in the Constitutional Court approved the banning of the parliamentary faction of the DK yesterday.
Goodness, tappanch George Orwell must me laughing himself silly in his grave – wrong year, wrong country!
But the right circumstances!
When Matolcsy took over the MNB he said some past decisions were ‘wrong practice’,
When do we get guidance from the government into ‘correct thinking’?
I think it’ll be burning books next.
Oops, and I mentioned G.O.
The members of the name extirpation committee are:
Sándor Szakály (no comment), Attila Pók , Sándor Horváth.
The leaks I understand are being driven by the MSZP (look at Mestehazy’s remark). They want to “kill off” Gyurcsany once and for all and NOW, and the Bajnai and the MSZP try and figure out how to team up (if possible).
If that were true — and I hope it is not — it would mean that the opposition deserve the ignominious defeat they will surely face if they keep brainlessly balkanizing one another to death. It would also mean that this feckless, gormless opposition is still better then Fidesz/Jobbik — but only just…
The leaks are driven by the (by now) Fidesz-loyal old-guard of the security establishment called by János Széky (editor of ÉS) the “brancs” (in slang Hungarian: a group of people, a gang).
It is a loose alliance of the senior levels (entering service before 1990) of the security establishment (I almost used the word former members, but there is no such thing as a former security agent), the personnel information of which was made public only with respect to the internal intelligence, ie. section III/III.
Info on pre-1990 foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, military intelligence, military counter-intel personnel were not made public (or only very selectively and rarely, for example János Martonyi was – according to info made public so far – at III/II, which was foreign intelligence).
These people – both the professionals and the ‘private’ agents – are still out in the ‘cold’, so to speak, their network (in a small country, small town like Budapest) still intact and operational – even though the movement between these sections was natural (i.e. there was no reason why only III/III people were outed, even from III/III not all of them).
Gyurcsány tried to strip the brancs off its influence on government policies, the leader of which within MSZP was András Tóth a state secretary (at the prime minister’s office) installed to oversee the security agencies (in other words to protect their interest). He got there against Gyurcsány’s wishes – but Gyurcsány never was as powerful a leader as Orbán, who is the sole decider in any and all questions in his party. Also important was Mónika Lamperth (minister of interior) and certain less-visible people around them.
I believe that the brancs is now more powerful than ever, as Fidesz loves to put such people into serious positions and they did so. One has to be very ignorant not to figure the CV’s of top governmental appointees who used to work in the eighties at the border-guards or international banks or intl. trade and cooperation companies or like the weird minsiter of Ministry of National Development who has no employment history before 1990 (other than some unspecified ‘foreign trade’ jobs).
Gyurcsány first got rid of Tóth, later of Lamperth as well. Széky’s thesis is that the 2006 events were a reply to Gyurcsány’s actions, which is very plausible to mee too.
Also Gyurcsány, via his personal friend Szilvásy (the successor of Tóth, probably not by chance if you know what I mean) closed the leaks from the agencies towards Fidesz (László Kövér and Ervin Demeter bragged in the media that they have a separate ‘agency’ inside the agencies and get regular reports from their moles, ie. when Kövér and Demeter were in opposition). The leaks stopped after Laborcz was appointed to be head of the National Security Agency.
I believe that Laborcz’s statement of his potential jailing refers more to the fact that – like all important people – he, too, had to request permission from the opposition Fidesz (!) whether he could accept his position in (during) Gyurcsány’s government. He was likely denied or at least warned that it is up to him to decide but should Fidesz come to power, they will take revenge.
I assume both Szilvásy and Laborcz were warned that they could enter the political arena, but must face the consequences. Comes with the territory. They probably will not be jailed or sentenced (they simply know too much and after all national security people are almost always spared, if someone is not a real traitor then he/she can get away with anything – they could obviously leak a lot to the media to protect themselves, but then the brancs would not spare them, so they have to endure), but they have been in and out of court (spent some days in pre-trial detention) and have to endure that they are used in political games. But they were warned, they had it coming (according to Fidesz).
I agree with NWO, the real traitor was Gyurcsány who wanted to decrease the brancs’s influence on government, and people around Mesterházy or wherever still can’t forgive him for that so they will spend some time dwelling on this. But not too much.
Dear Professor Balogh and readers!
Today when I clicked on the link in Facebook to read toady’s post I had a warning from FB that this site might be unsafe and they want feedback on whether it is spam or not spam. Obviously I clicked on NOT SPAM and got through to a properly bright site. Prior to that it was very dark grey in colour and difficult to read.
I have had this before when opponents of a Facebook page report it to FB for some spurious offence and then FB starts assuming it is racist or libellous and sometime it gets so bad that it gets taken off. The readers should all click NOT SPAM and keep en eye on it. I have no doubt that this business about Hungarian Spectrum being unsafe is an underhand attack and needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand. Unfortunately I cannot now remember how that other FB page sorted it, but there must be ways.
Perhaps prof. Balogh should run at least once every day a complete anti-virus check on her computer.
There is no way! The transcripts were in the hands of the government.
Nothing to do with viruses. It is done by reporting you to FB who then instead of checking if the accusations are true, just take you off. Had happened to others before, I just thought of warning Prof. Balogh.
Yes, Eva, interviewed at the suggestion of…the FSB (KGB) who, no doubt, knew he was still clean AT THAT TIME. He became indoctrinated AFTER the FBI check. So clever, these KGB ‘chess players’….
JGrant meant Facebook (FB) not FBI !
Several of wordpress blogs that I frequent through FB gave similar warning. Perhaps it is to do with wordpress?
FB != FBI
Sorry, I misread it.
You wish … 🙂
A rather telltale slip: “Did the Gyurcsány government spy on Fidesz politicians?”
As I’ve read in the transcript, the goal was to compromise “corrupt” politicians or/and members of the administration, etc., so, if they happened to be Fidesz members as well, would mean that it was the main reason too?
So, all the Fidesz politicians – admittedly – corrupt?
A simple intelligence-gathering procedure being blown out of proportions?
Just pure BS, nothing but..?
Remember, the implicated secret service chief himself made and filed the recordings – certainly wouldn’t do it, if it would give even the slightest possibility to fell him for it – would have been much easier to make them disappear, don’t you think?
The whole thing stinks high, Orbán once again on the warpath – the bulls-eye on Gyurcsány, no doubt.
The publication of these excerpts reminds me of the publication of the “Speach of Öszöd.” There is a great deal of suspicion justified towards this pick and choose method of transcript that, what a surprise! is beneficially supporting the false claims of Fidesz about their opponents. First they, Fidesz, lie through their teeth, then they go out to find excerpts that can be tailored to support those lies. They are, to quote a minor classic, “the lying lyers that lie.”
This is peanuts compared to a Stratfor memo posted recently on WikiLeaks:
Either Stratfor’s analysts read way too much Kuruc.info or the Gyurcsány government was more corrupt and sinister than anyone has ever thought (including its harshest critics).
The story is currently making headlines on the front page of Index.hu.
@Tyker: Sure. Political strategy: spread insinuations, speculations, conspiracy theories about your political opponents until they become so widespread that intelligence agencies include them in their reports. Then publish leaked intelligence reports to “prove” how well-founded your insinuations were. Bingo.
I would be curious who this “analyst” Klara E. Kiss-Kingston is?
And Hungary is not a specially complicated country (small, mono-lingusitic, mono-ethnic with easy georgraphy, member of the EU). I think even kuruc.info people would not believe this level of craziness.
Try to understand or analyse with these resources and quality Pakistan or Indonesia or North Korea or Russia.
No wonder these Stratfor people and their superiors had not an incling about the Arab spring or 9/11 (despite repeated warnings), let alone the fall of the Berlin Wall. Plus perhaps they got warning about the Boston bombers as well.
Incompetency is not the exclusive domain of Hungarian politicians and burocrats it seems.
I find it far more credible that the MSZP wants to kill off Gyurcsany than Fidesz. Gyurcsany is Fidesz’s most effective secret weapon. He was the one that destroyed the MSZP and gave Fidesz the two-thirds majority. I even speculated that Gyurcsany might be a secret Fidesz agent tasked with destroying the unity of the left. He’s certainly giving that impression. Bajnai would do almost anything to disassociate himself from Gyurcsany.
Dan, are you also at Starfor? Your theories are crazy.
First, Gyurcsány did not destroy MSZP.
MSZP has abjectly failed to do anything in the last 3 years. It is almost crazy how reserved and inactive they were especially when cmpared to the manic activity of Fidesz during opposition — although most of them were scared shi**ess than the prosecution will bring them to jail for a nice 6-9 months (into pre-trial detention) and then can litigate for further 8-10 years.
Bajnai simply wants to seek moderate, traditionally non-left leaning (ie. left-hater) voters so they think that Gyurcsány would not be good.
They try to dissociate themselves because they niceely react to Fidesz’ campaign to associate them with Gyurcsány, in a way Fidesz directs them to do something (as Fidesz always did, their campaign and media tries oto influnce the politics of the other side) because Fidesz’ main goal is to sow disunity and try to divide the opposition. That is Fidesz’ main goal ,everything is secondary.
So there is no big conspiracy, just stupid politics within a divided left.
Your imagination is incredible. What nonsense.
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