Massive police “inspection” in Budapest on Sunday

I almost missed the 24-hour-long police action in the nine districts of the left bank of the Danube, which means the entire Pest side of Budapest. Thousands of policemen worked diligently starting at “Sunday morning zero hour” to stop and search cars. These guardians of law and order had the authority to examine the clothing of the passengers and could search their cars looking for “instruments that may endanger public safety.” When reporters inquired why this heightened alert, the police refused to reveal the reason for what police jargon calls “increased inspection” (fokozott ellenőrzés).

It was twenty years ago that I first experienced similar Hungarian police tactics. I was riding with relatives when the car was pulled over for no good reason by two young policemen who wanted to see the driver’s license. I was somewhat shaken, but it turned out that this was common practice. Later an Internet friend reported that during a fairly short trip he was stopped three times. In any case, my relatives took the whole incident in stride.

These periodic checks of absolutely innocent drivers are annoying enough, but this latest full-scale “raid,” as Magyar Nemzet called it, is most likely unconstitutional. At least this is what the Hungarian Helsinki Committee thinks. On July 19 the organization, after a similar raid of a private club maintained by a Jewish youth organization, turned to Máté Szabó, the ombudsman, to inquire about the constitutionality of such police raids.

About a month ago the police stepped up its inspection of motorcyclists and bicyclists in Budapest, allegedly “because during the summer there are accidents every day that involve motorcycles and bicycles.” Twenty-five percent of those inspected were found guilty of breaking various rules and regulations. These inspections are ordered because the leaders of the Hungarian police force claim that  they serve the purpose of “reducing the number of crimes, preventing illegal activities and forestalling traffic accidents.” The fines, of course, also bring in much needed revenue.

When the Budapest police chief was asked the reason for this latest mega-inspection, he refused to divulge its purpose. According to Ferenc Krémer, an expert on police matters, not divulging the reason for police actions was “the customary practice of the Kádár regime.” In fact, a policeman who approaches a vehicle during these inspections must inform the passengers of the car of the purpose of his mission and ask for their cooperation. Naturally, in this case no such practice was followed because there was no declared reason for the search.

Now comes the question of what is considered to be a bodily search (motozás in Hungarian). It seems that according to the official police definition such a search includes bodily cavities, and it can be performed only in the presence of a doctor. However, the “search of clothing,” which is currently allowed, is also an intrusion because after all it entails what we call “frisking” in English–that is, searching  for something concealed, especially a weapon, by passing the hands quickly over clothes or through pockets. Well, to my mind this is also “motozás.” Searching the car is also questionable according to the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, especially since the European Court of Justice already made a ruling forbidding it in a case involving the U.K. police force.

"Increased inspection" MTI / Photo Sándor H. Szabó

“Increased inspection”
MTI / Photo Sándor H. Szabó

The argument that these periodic searches of people and cars are instrumental in crime prevention has no foundation. While the number of police actions has been steadily growing since September 2012 when the new national police chief took over, so has the number of crimes.

As I said, I almost missed this news, mostly because the Hungarian media didn’t pay much attention to it. A well known Hungarian journalist e-mailed me this morning complaining about the scant coverage. Given the secrecy and the large scale of the “increased inspection,” he suspects that the real aim of this and similar raids is intimidation. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were right.

Fidesz leaders have certainly used intimidation before. And here’s one small example from today. In a Miskolc hospital eight premature babies died over a short period of time. Viktor Orbán himself stepped in. He suspended the director of the hospital and personally ordered the police to investigate and darkly mentioned the possible role of the National Security Office in the case. I’ll bet that everybody in that hospital is shaking in their boots at the moment. It’s not every day that a prime minister suspends hospital personnel and orders a police investigation of an individual hospital’s practices.

The dark message? The police, the government’s enforcement agency, should be feared and the population should understand that “raids” can come at any time, with no probable cause required and no justification necessary. This kind of intimidation belongs in a police state, not in a democracy.

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45 comments

  1. These intrusions will lead to an accidental blow out, expressed in self-immolation.
    It will spark the revolution.
    Or the final silence.

  2. Eva I do not think it is only intimidation of hospital personnel. But also acting immediately before anybody can say that it is better to have privatization of the hospital system in Hungary. Fidesz was very much against this, and reversed most, if not all of it.

    See for example this re. 2008 http://hetivalasz.hu/english_hungary/is-health-good-business-25764

    Although terrible for the parents, babies and their families. I am not surprised that this happened. However, they use to be some kind of epidemic department of the government, and this department was always doing the research why infections are happening. I do not understand why they are not called in?

    I wonder, if doctors and/or nurses are charged, how many of them are going abroad.

  3. If you google on “fokozott ellenőrzés” you noticed that this is not only in Budapest the last weekend. In fact it is happening since February throughout the country every month.

    This weekend is was Pest, Nyireghaza. Weekend before that Sarbogard. Also sometimes the Police needs to get the people out for budget reasons (they need to make the targets otherwise their budget will be cut).

    Conspiracy mode on:
    Because the Romanian Police frisked our kids in Romania, we will do the same in Budapest.after the Sziget.
    http://szegedma.hu/hir/szeged/2013/08/fokozott-hatosagi-ellenorzes-az-emi-taborban.html
    Conspiracy mode off.

  4. I’ve just started reading Anne Applebaum’s ‘Iron Curtain – the crushing of Eastern Europe’ and the introduction includes much discussion of what constitutes a totalitarian regime.

    I can’t remember the exact detail (and typically I now can’t find it!), but it included no political choice, state control of media, nationalisation of industry and retail, central control of the economy, schooling, etc. And, of course, it was interesting to compare this definition with Orbán’s Hungary.

    Although he has more or less achieved some of these aspects and is on his way to achieve others, I was relieved to see that he didn’t really come up to scratch when compared to the real totalitarian regimes. There were several areas where he was a long way from meeting the qualifications.

    And the main one of these was the establishment of a police state…

  5. All true, I completely agree.

    However, people crave security and reward politicians for it, or rather for the appearance of making efforts to establish security. Of course, the trick is that there is no real danger in the first place, but whatever.

    In the US, there is now a police state, but are people angry about the fact that your emails are recorded for eternity and, by the way, are also forwarded by the NSA to other agencies so they can cherry pick interesting emails?

    Btw great article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/laura-poitras-snowden.html?ref=magazine&pagewanted=all

    Do people care about the facts that you have to stand in line at least an hour to get through airport security, get yourself radiated (I choose the pat down) and take off your shoes and belt, which have zero relevance, all in the name better security?

    No, except for the Guardian and the foreigners, nobody cares and even to raise the issue is a taboo, as you get on the no flight/harrassment list as in the linked article. Everybody else is happy as can be and can have the illusion that everything is fine and we have a responsible government (and that there was a danger, or there is still danger and thus we need, and need more than ever a police state).

    So it’s not a surprise that in Hungary people still like the Kádár regime (even if they have not even lived in it) when there was still Order. Gipsies knew their place, young people respected authority and their teachers, your neighbor did not dare to be loud despite asking and refuse paying the common fees for months. Those were the days. But wait, we may still have a chance. Orbán can be almost as good as Kádár…

    Expect a police state in Hungary as well — especially as Orban just loves the security apparatus, they are the only group of people (as opposed to individuals) whom he really trusts.

  6. All true, I completely agree.

    However, people crave security and reward politicians for it, or rather for the appearance of making efforts to establish security. Of course, the trick is that there is no real danger in the first place, but whatever.

    In the US, there is now a police state, but are people angry about the fact that your emails are recorded for eternity and, by the way, are also forwarded by the NSA to other agencies so they can cherry pick interesting emails?

    (Btw fantastic cover story in this weeks NYtimes Magazin about a journalist lady, highly recommended. Already online, but will not link it as her name is too dangerous even to write down as you will find out from the article.)

    Do people care about the facts that you have to stand in line at least an hour to get through airport security, get yourself radiated (I choose the pat down) and take off your shoes and belt, which have zero relevance, all in the name better security?

    No, except for the Guardian and the foreigners, nobody cares and even to raise the issue is a taboo — for political reasons but also you don’t want to be singled out by the police state. Everybody else is happy as can be and can have the illusion that everything is fine and we have a responsible government (and that there was a danger, or there is still danger and thus we need, and need more than ever a police state).

    So it’s not a surprise that people still like the Kádár regime (even if they have not even lived in it) when there was still Order. Gipsies knew their place, young people respected authority, like teachers, your neighbor did not dare to be loud and refuse paying the common fees. Those were the days. But wait, we may still have a chance. Orban can perhaps be as good as Kádár…

    Expect the police state to increase in Hungary — especially as Orban just loves the security apparatus, they are the only group of people he really trusts.

  7. @Ron: “However, they use to be some kind of epidemic department of the government, and this department was always doing the research why infections are happening. I do not understand why they are not called in?”

    They are called ANTSZ and probably they don’t understand it either. My guess is that because sending the police and the national security office is more spectacular.

  8. die Mücke :
    All true, I completely agree.
    In the US, there is now a police state, but are people angry about the fact that your emails are recorded for eternity and, by the way, are also forwarded by the NSA to other agencies so they can cherry pick interesting emails?
    (Btw fantastic cover story in this weeks NYtimes Magazin about a journalist lady, highly recommended. Already online, but will not link it as her name is too dangerous even to write down as you will find out from the article.)
    Do people care about the facts that you have to stand in line at least an hour to get through airport security, get yourself radiated (I choose the pat down) and take off your shoes and belt, which have zero relevance, all in the name better security?
    No, except for the Guardian and the foreigners, nobody cares and even to raise the issue is a taboo — for political reasons but also you don’t want to be singled out by the police state. Everybody else is happy as can be and can have the illusion that everything is fine and we have a responsible government (and that there was a danger, or there is still danger and thus we need, and need more than ever a police state).

    The only thing I don’t understand is this: why is the whole world trying to get here by any means, to the US, to this police state? Why do we have over ten million (some think over twenty) illegal immigrants, why don’t they just stay in their non-police state countries? They must be all crazy…

  9. Re police checks in Hungary:

    As a foreigner with a car with German licence plates I’ve also been stoppe sevral times . but less than once a year.

    Several times the policemen just looked at me and waived me on – probably I look “German” enough …

    Twice I had to show my driving licence and the cars papers and one of the policeman went around the car to look at the plate – seems they were only interested in the question: Has the car insurance and its “MOT” (müszaki vizsga) – it seems that some foreigners have cars in Hungary without technical checks nor insurance which is very dangerous of course.

    A bit OT:

    I gave my second car to one of my wife’s sons when they had a baby – made it much easier for them, of course with an authorization paper. That was ok for a while but once he was stopped on the way back to Budapest where they live and the policeman said to him that such an authorization was only valid for max 24 hours and he would have to fine him and the car would have to stay – maybe that was one of the new Fidesz laws that Hungarians are not allowed to drive cars with foreign licence plates, even from the EU.

    But then the policeman realised that there was the wife and baby with him and let them go – telling them also that he should get me to sign a batch of “24 hour authorizations” for every day he wanted to use the car …

    So in the end we decided that I’d sell him the car and he got Hungarian papers and a Hungarian licence plate – that took some time but went without a hitch – the intersting thing however was that they kept the German papers and the plates, seems that too many people misused those things. So some months later the whole thing was in the German office’s computers and the insurance company was also notified.

    PS:

    Still you see a lot of rich Hungarians driving large SUVs with Slovak licence plates (also in Hévíz) – wonder how thesew people manage. If I were a policeman, that would be the first thing I’d check – but no one is intersted …

  10. Wolfi: Still you see a lot of rich Hungarians driving large SUVs with Slovak licence plates (also in Hévíz) – wonder how thesew people manage. If I were a policeman, that would be the first thing I’d check – but no one is intersted …

    Oh yes they are interested. In fact in 2011 Fidesz passed a law forbidding Hungarians living in Hungary (if they can not prove that they are living abroad) to drive foreign licence plate cars.

    It was a tax scam. In Hungary people pay twice the VAT plus some other taxes. And these taxes are not tax deductible resulting in high purchase prices of cars. So the scam was to set up a company in mainly Slovakia or Germany and buy a car and put it on the name of the company.

    They in fact would not be a big problem, but it were mainly expensive cars (BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Porche), and some of them did not obey the rules and if difficult to enforce the law on these people.

    So when the law was passed only Hungarian living abroad could drive foreign licence plate cars. http://totalcar.hu/magazin/kozelet/2012/03/29/adocsalokat_fogtunk/

  11. Ron :
    Eva I do not think it is only intimidation of hospital personnel. But also acting immediately before anybody can say that it is better to have privatization of the hospital system in Hungary. Fidesz was very much against this, and reversed most, if not all of it.
    See for example this re. 2008 http://hetivalasz.hu/english_hungary/is-health-good-business-25764
    Although terrible for the parents, babies and their families. I am not surprised that this happened. However, they use to be some kind of epidemic department of the government, and this department was always doing the research why infections are happening. I do not understand why they are not called in?
    I wonder, if doctors and/or nurses are charged, how many of them are going abroad.

    Okay forget what I said. It is revenge. I went to Eva’s articles on Viktor Orban’s Predicament (April 15, 2010) https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/04/page/2/

    And in this article she talked about the Stratégiai Szövetség a Magyar Kórházakért Egyesület. This organization want to cash in on the election win in 2010 by demanding billions of forints. Dr Gabor Chiba is one of the guys asking money. Website: http://www.stratszov.hu/tagok.html

  12. The weekend in Hungary was full of raids, all over the country, obviously.
    The people who visited the Ozora Festival near Lake Balaton, had been searched one by one, taken from shuttle busses and intimidated by not outspokenly friendly police officers. It was clear to me, that this kind of interference of a festival is meant to destroy it and to make visitors think twice if they would come back next year. My impression on the festival itself was, that it didn’t work and people will come again.
    And there was another festival going on in Hungary, Sziget. Maybe all these is connected to the massive appearance of young people from all over the world. After what happened in and around Ozora I could imagine that.

  13. An :

    @Ron: “However, they use to be some kind of epidemic department of the government, and this department was always doing the research why infections are happening. I do not understand why they are not called in?”

    They are called ANTSZ and probably they don’t understand it either. My guess is that because sending the police and the national security office is more spectacular.

    Also yesterday there was a good interview with the head of the Hospital Association, a hospital director himself. He was cautious but it was clear that they also find the political interference unfortunate.

  14. “The dark message? The police, the government’s enforcement agency, should be feared…”

    The Felcsutian Diktator at his best. Of course, the first such police action is to show Viktor’s ‘humane’ side–his worry of some misdeed. But this is just a prelude, or the groundwork, for later action that will have no ‘humanitarian’ background. Brick by brick, the Kastle is being built…

    And the moronic Hungarians will, all the while, be facing Eastward, mumbling Nationalistic mumbo-jumbo; interspersed with their soul-pleasing, anti-semitistic gurgglings.

    GIVE GAZ, indeed….

  15. Good to read your comments,Wolfi. Regarding the car checks,I was reminded of something strange that happened a few years ago. My brother was visiting from Prague,and drove his Czech car,which was parked outside my house for a few days. After he left I was walking home with my 3 small children,returning from the shop,when I became vaguely aware of a car trailing me. Just as I was about to unlock my door,the car pulled up and out stepped a policeman. He wanted to know who was visiting from the Czech Republic. I answered a few simple questions,and that was that,and he drove off. I felt a bit uneasy about it,though,a bit like ‘Big Brother is watching you!’ – Eva,regarding the comments about the premature babies dying: I do think a full scale investigation is necessary when something like this happens,to find out the causes,and if medical negligence was at play. But these heavy handed tactics remind me of the case of Gereb Agnes,the home birthing midwife. As far as I know,she’s still under house arrest. Hungarian doctors need to look at their attitudes towards childbirth,and should follow the lead of countries like Holland or Germany where home birthing is not considered dangerous,or radical,and where statistically it has been shown to be as safe as hospital births,in some cases slightly safer. Apparently it is now legal to have a home birth in Hungary,but very hard to reach the required criteria. I’d love to see a discussion on this topic in the future,on HS,as it’s very topical,and many Hungarian women have been fighting for the right to have home births for years.

  16. Nicky :
    My brother was visiting from Prague,and drove his Czech car,which was parked outside my house for a few days. After he left I was walking home with my 3 small children,returning from the shop,when I became vaguely aware of a car trailing me. Just as I was about to unlock my door,the car pulled up and out stepped a policeman. He wanted to know who was visiting from the Czech Republic. I answered a few simple questions,and that was that,and he drove off.

    I don’t think you should have answered him. I would have asked him a few questions. For example, about his right to ask me such questions. I would have asked for his name, if he had no identifying number, and would have told him that I will report him to his superiors.

  17. Almost simultaneously to the Hungarrian police action a judge in NYCity ordered a halt to the “stop and frisk” actions routinely used by NY cops during the past 8 years.

    Statistics showed that over 80% of the American action was taken in the case of coloured minority population and very rarely resulted in catching offenders.

    (Relevant articles appeared in the New York Times on the above subject).

    The similarity of the afore discussed police procedures within in the two countries was shocking.

  18. andy :
    Almost simultaneously to the Hungarrian police action a judge in NYCity ordered a halt to the “stop and frisk” actions routinely used by NY cops during the past 8 years.
    Statistics showed that over 80% of the American action was taken in the case of coloured minority population and very rarely resulted in catching offenders.
    (Relevant articles appeared in the New York Times on the above subject).
    The similarity of the afore discussed police procedures within in the two countries was shocking.

    The judge did not order a halt, it just ordered stronger monitoring. The stop and frisk was found to be constitutional by the US Supreme Court. After this practice was started, New York City became the US city with the lowest crime rate. And yes, members of the African-American and Hispanic community were overrepresented among those who were stopped and frisked, if you consider their proportion in the overall population in NYC. However, they were not overrepresented, if you consider their proportion among those who committed violent crimes.

    Further, this practice was not initiated to impose Mayor Bloomberg’s dictatorial tendencies…

    So, where is the shocking similarity?

  19. Wolfi: These “rich Hungarians driving large SUVs with Slovak licence plates” are with the highest probability the rich Slovaks driving regularly along the Slovak-Hungarian boarders. And for those riches it is no problem to drive frequently to Héviz.

    Due to the relatively lower house prices in Hungary, many Slovaks bought houses there, mainly within the triangel Rajka – Mosonmagyarovár – Hegyeshalom, but also outside this area (also in neighbouring Austria). They usually have permanent address in Slovakia, they work there and every day return back to Hungary. I am not sure which licence plates should they have – Slovak or Hungarian? So far, it is considered having the Slovak documents is o.k. Which sense would it have to harass them with this agenda within the EU? I think it is important that they have all documents for driving abroad. BTW, I know a Hungarian from Rajka who works in Bratislava and drives every day to Bratislava and back – with the car with Hungarian plates and this is also o.k. I drive often to Rajka and Mosonmagyarovár and I was once also stopped by Hungarian police for control. They were polite, asked my documents, did the tour around my car (as you described) and said thank you. I did not see anything strange in this procedure. Probably also because such controls were common in our countries in old times of socialism. But I remember that in the past I was once stopped by police in Germany (Bonn) and they said to me that it was regular control, asked documents etc… similar to that in Hungary. What is strange for me in this case described by Eva is the extent of the controls, the number of policemen participated and the secret reason of controls.

  20. Szomszéd,

    these police inspections right now are surely extraordinary …

    Regarding papers for cars:

    I had to read up the official EU position, which is:

    If you as a citizen of an EU state have a secondary residence (as I have in Hungary) you cannot (!) register a car there – you have to register it at your primary residence …

    I was thinking about that because cars are cheaper here and insurance also …

    Btw: The situation is similar inside Germany – if you have a summer house and a secondary residence somewhere, you cannot register a car there, even if it might be cheaper.

    Of course I don’t know what the residences of these Slovaks/Hungarians are.

    Any way what I meant to describe were recent cases of Hungarian businessmen (owners of shops, restaurants etc) living in Hévíz driving “Slovak” cars …

  21. gdfxx :

    andy :
    Almost simultaneously to the Hungarrian police action a judge in NYCity ordered a halt to the “stop and frisk” actions routinely used by NY cops during the past 8 years.
    Statistics showed that over 80% of the American action was taken in the case of coloured minority population and very rarely resulted in catching offenders.
    (Relevant articles appeared in the New York Times on the above subject).
    The similarity of the afore discussed police procedures within in the two countries was shocking.

    The judge did not order a halt, it just ordered stronger monitoring. The stop and frisk was found to be constitutional by the US Supreme Court. After this practice was started, New York City became the US city with the lowest crime rate. And yes, members of the African-American and Hispanic community were overrepresented among those who were stopped and frisked, if you consider their proportion in the overall population in NYC. However, they were not overrepresented, if you consider their proportion among those who committed violent crimes.
    Further, this practice was not initiated to impose Mayor Bloomberg’s dictatorial tendencies…
    So, where is the shocking similarity?

    And I forgot an essential part: the NYPD (New York Police Department) has to have a reason for stopping and frisking someone. The judge’s ruling was based of 19 cases (out of more than 4 million cases of stop and frisk), out which 9 were found to be “unconstitutional—that is, they were not based on reasonable suspicion.”

  22. Belarus has so many regulations and laws that it is impossible to be sure you are obeying them all. Hungary has so many laws and regulations you can never be sure that you are obeying them all.

    At the moment, I would suggest there are 150-200 homeless camping overnight in the Varosliget. There are also about 30 campervans with French registration plates stopping over, on their way back from the “controversial” Ozora festival with folk smoking the kind of tobacco which is not (widely) on sale in the typical Nemzeti Dohany Bolt. Both groups are causing absolutely no problem but in theory representatives from both groups could find themselves locked up for 5, 10. 15 years *if* the cops decide to do the job the Orbanists have employed them to do.

    Constantly you are looking over the shoulder to check the regime is not checking you.
    99% of the time they are not due to laziness or sheer incompetence.
    But just like in Belarus, the laws are there to sort out your *crimes* if for whatever reason the Fidesz mafia decides you need taking down.

  23. gdfxx :

    gdfxx :

    andy :
    Almost simultaneously to the Hungarrian police action a judge in NYCity ordered a halt to the “stop and frisk” actions routinely used by NY cops during the past 8 years.
    Statistics showed that over 80% of the American action was taken in the case of coloured minority population and very rarely resulted in catching offenders.
    (Relevant articles appeared in the New York Times on the above subject).
    The similarity of the afore discussed police procedures within in the two countries was shocking.

    The judge did not order a halt, it just ordered stronger monitoring. The stop and frisk was found to be constitutional by the US Supreme Court. After this practice was started, New York City became the US city with the lowest crime rate. And yes, members of the African-American and Hispanic community were overrepresented among those who were stopped and frisked, if you consider their proportion in the overall population in NYC. However, they were not overrepresented, if you consider their proportion among those who committed violent crimes.
    Further, this practice was not initiated to impose Mayor Bloomberg’s dictatorial tendencies…
    So, where is the shocking similarity?

    And I forgot an essential part: the NYPD (New York Police Department) has to have a reason for stopping and frisking someone. The judge’s ruling was based of 19 cases (out of more than 4 million cases of stop and frisk), out which 9 were found to be “unconstitutional—that is, they were not based on reasonable suspicion.”

    In the US I remember that there used to be “checkpoints” set up during holidays that were known for heavy drinking, such as New Year’s eve, and at the checkpoints the police would stop everyone or anyone, without regard to reasonable suspicion, and check to see if they showed signs of being too inebriated to drive legally.

  24. szomszéd :
    Wolfi: These “rich Hungarians driving large SUVs with Slovak licence plates” are with the highest probability the rich Slovaks driving regularly along the Slovak-Hungarian boarders. And for those riches it is no problem to drive frequently to Héviz.
    Due to the relatively lower house prices in Hungary, many Slovaks bought houses there, mainly within the triangel Rajka – Mosonmagyarovár – Hegyeshalom, but also outside this area (also in neighbouring Austria). They usually have permanent address in Slovakia, they work there and every day return back to Hungary. I am not sure which licence plates should they have – Slovak or Hungarian? So far, it is considered having the Slovak documents is o.k. Which sense would it have to harass them with this agenda within the EU? I think it is important that they have all documents for driving abroad. BTW, I know a Hungarian from Rajka who works in Bratislava and drives every day to Bratislava and back – with the car with Hungarian plates and this is also o.k. I drive often to Rajka and Mosonmagyarovár and I was once also stopped by Hungarian police for control. They were polite, asked my documents, did the tour around my car (as you described) and said thank you. I did not see anything strange in this procedure. Probably also because such controls were common in our countries in old times of socialism. But I remember that in the past I was once stopped by police in Germany (Bonn) and they said to me that it was regular control, asked documents etc… similar to that in Hungary. What is strange for me in this case described by Eva is the extent of the controls, the number of policemen participated and the secret reason of controls.

    I see plenty of Slovak plates here in Budapest, regularly, and it is a well-known fact that many of them are (or at least used to be) driven by Hungarians living in Hungary full-time. Almost all of them are very nice, very expensive cars.

  25. We have the same ‘stop and search’ situation in the UK, especially in London. 90%+ it’s black and other minority people they stop, using the same ‘logic; as gdfxx. But the reality is that very few of those stopped are found to have anything criminal on them, so it only prevents a minute number of crimes, if any. But in the meantime the black and minority communities are turned against the police.

    And, although there may appear to be some logic in stopping black people because a large number of crimes are committed by black people, in fact this is the same ‘logic’ of classifying people by the group they belong to, rather than treating them as individuals, that racism is based on. From a human rights viewpoint, we are all innocent until proven guilty, whatever our colour, and whatever the colour of most people in jail. The police have no right whatsoever to stop and search us unless they have proof that we might be up to something – the sort of proof that would be required for a search warrant, for instance.

    Most fraud crime in the UK is committed by white people, I wonder how the majority population would feel if the police started stopping and searching white people because of this ‘logic’.

  26. Yes, Paul, this phenomenon is common to most of Europe – but sometimes people stand up to it and maybe it changes:

    Just a few weeks ago we had a big stink in the local paper in the German university town where I live because a young black student stood up. He travels by train from his parents’ place to Tübingen and got checked every so often by the “train police” …

    And one day he asked why they checked him and not the other 100 passengers and didn’t show them his German id – so they took him to the police station, thinking of course they had got an illegal immigrant …

    And when he finally showed them his id and went to the authorities and the newspaper there was a big uproar – so maybe now the police will think twice before they check a “suspicious individuum” …

  27. Paul :
    We have the same ‘stop and search’ situation in the UK, especially in London. 90%+ it’s black and other minority people they stop, using the same ‘logic; as gdfxx. But the reality is that very few of those stopped are found to have anything criminal on them, so it only prevents a minute number of crimes, if any. But in the meantime the black and minority communities are turned against the police.
    And, although there may appear to be some logic in stopping black people because a large number of crimes are committed by black people, in fact this is the same ‘logic’ of classifying people by the group they belong to, rather than treating them as individuals, that racism is based on. From a human rights viewpoint, we are all innocent until proven guilty, whatever our colour, and whatever the colour of most people in jail. The police have no right whatsoever to stop and search us unless they have proof that we might be up to something – the sort of proof that would be required for a search warrant, for instance.
    Most fraud crime in the UK is committed by white people, I wonder how the majority population would feel if the police started stopping and searching white people because of this ‘logic’.

    Paul, this is not my logic, this is the US Supreme Court’s logic. And the black or Hsipanic people are not stopped because they are black or Hispanic, they are stopped because they are in a crime-ridden area and the police have some reason to believe that they may carry weapons. Finally, the black and minority communities have the lion-share of the crime, thus most of them actually do not mind this because it is their neighborhood that becomes crime-free.

    And in the US the Supreme Court declared it constitutional for the police to stop and frisk anyone if they have a reasonable believe that the person carries a weapon.

    I suggested to someone that the police should start stopping and frisking the spectators leaving the performances of the Metropolitan Opera or Carnegie Hall, this may satisfy those who only want racial balance in this process, process that made NYC liveable.

    There are methods of catching white collar criminals, stop and frisk is not a very efficient one.

    Anyway, I doubt I can convince you, maybe if you lived in NYC in the 70s and now, you would understand.

  28. googly: “In the US I remember that there used to be “checkpoints” set up during holidays that were known for heavy drinking, such as New Year’s eve, and at the checkpoints the police would stop everyone or anyone, without regard to reasonable suspicion, and check to see if they showed signs of being too inebriated to drive legally.”

    Yes, this happens. And everyone is stopped exactly for the reason to eliminate the discrimination argument. This is also the result of a court case. By the way, there is no degree of being inebriated that allows driving ;-)).

  29. gdfxx :

    Yes, this happens. And everyone is stopped exactly for the reason to eliminate the discrimination argument. This is also the result of a court case. By the way, there is no degree of being inebriated that allows driving ;-) ).

    It happened to me only once, years ago. We were crossing the Hudson at Newburgh (route 84). Policemen looked into all cars and as soon as they saw two women, just signaled that we can go. Obviously they were looking specifically for someone or someones.

  30. tappanch :
    Poll by Nezopont, one of Fidesz’s own pollster, taken between August 6 and 10. Sample size was 1,000 people.
    Fidesz 32%
    Jobbik 10%
    Democratic opposition + uncertain “government changers” 35%
    others 23%
    http://nezopontintezet.hu/files/2013/08/Nezopont_Intezet_kozvelemeny_kutatas.pdf

    On August 12 I posted regarding a Survey conducted by Tarki. Here are my comments:

    “What I find most interesting is that although that the survey was not about “Who would you vote for?”, still you can see how would people vote. I am interested about the two categories, “non disclosed party” and “no party preference” (undecided). 967 people participated, and
    263 identified themselves as Fidesz 27%
    128 MSZP 13%
    70 Jobbik 7%
    38 Egyutt-2014 4%
    26 LMP 3%
    334 no party preference (that is more than Fidesz) 33%
    108 non disclosed party 11%
    What it shows that over 10% of people are afraid to tell who they choose, and over 33% are undecided.”

  31. gdfxx :
    googly: “In the US I remember that there used to be “checkpoints” set up during holidays that were known for heavy drinking, such as New Year’s eve, and at the checkpoints the police would stop everyone or anyone, without regard to reasonable suspicion, and check to see if they showed signs of being too inebriated to drive legally.”
    Yes, this happens. And everyone is stopped exactly for the reason to eliminate the discrimination argument. This is also the result of a court case. By the way, there is no degree of being inebriated that allows driving ).

    Same in Toronto. THey stop everyone, and you need to roll down your window.
    “DId you have anything to drink?” they ask as they lean close. THat is it. In reality they just smell if there are any alcohol or “smoking” involved. They flag you through in 3 seconds if there is no smell. They NEVER enter your vehicle or search you. THey order out people from the vehicle if necessary.

  32. wolfi: Thanks for reminding me of EU rules and explaining the situation in Heviz.. I did not realize that there is a reason for Hungarians to have a car with Slovak plates but Ron explained it.

    It seems these rules/laws are not very effective concerning businessmen. Ron described the mechanism: after seting up a company abroad, buying a car there and putting it on the name of the company, there is probably no problem for the owner to drive it anywhere. Yes, in a country where the police has extensive control over the citizens, it is possible to prove him breaching the law with monitoring his activities.

  33. The concerted Orbán effort at uniformization and top-down centralized control of all processes including increased number of major state businesses and activities (Tobacco, beliefs, Religions (official ‘legitimized’ ones), the Arts institutions, the elite police (TEK), social entertainment programs (sports, recently the sunday afternoon dance parties for singles, in front of the President’s palace in Budapest, increasing the populations numbers to be more massively controlled, the taxies all painted the same colour, the tobacco shops all looking very conservative and alike, the penchant for secrecy (regular government decisions and related decision-making processes unnecessarily secretized for up to 80+ years), the tobacco shop concession applications returned to applicant with no trace of the reasons for negative decisions), the standardized heat-shielded uniforms for the fire-fighters.(ones that all had to be remanufactured again), etc etc etc all point to an insecure leader who needs to see people at his beck and call and his processes easily overseen.and controlled. In business this can be considered micro-management by one individual, in this case in part to satisfy the Leader’s constant need to exercise his power over large swashes of the population at a time. This includes the media control which provides wide scope of tentacles to influence and direct people’s thinking processes and thought and opinions.

    In the case of police checks the narrowing and intolerance of the SLIGHTEST deviance from the accepted norm, that is, absolute ZERO tolerance of ANY alcohol left in the blood is an extreme from of constraint to the accepted norm going beyond the previously already very strict laws and regulations to this effect.

    All this have major purposes: to make the populations powerless and therefroe subjugated to control and abolute vindictiveness toward the perceived enemy (those whose opinions do not agree with the goiverment’s line of thinking. Simply put, in case somone overtly organizes anything that is counter to State wishes, local spies (a tradition in Hungarian society) can be used to tip off about the coming and goings of ‘targeted’ individuals where the police would be arouind the corner to stop the selcted car-driver with an alcohol test. This would immedietly make him/her vulnerable to immediate revocation of licenses, very high fines and if munable to pay up, prison sentence where a day in a forced work situation or incarceration is priced at working off 5,000 forints of value in fine per diem… Where in the case of a, say 150,000 forint fine would be 30 days in jail or ignoble, inappropriate work unsuited to the individual’s social status. Consequently character assasination, another tool traditionally used in this society.

    .

  34. Eva S. Balogh : The dark message? The police, the government’s enforcement agency, should be feared and the population should understand that “raids” can come at any time, with no probable cause required and no justification necessary. This kind of intimidation belongs in a police state, not in a democracy.

    Welcome to post-9/11 continental Europe, Dr Balogh.

    I’m stretching it a bit, as it doesn’t concern all EU members, and as in some countries it had started before 9/11 – but the subsequent global increase in security laws followed roughly the same pattern everywhere, first in the name of fighting terrorism, then (why stop here) in the name of fighting drugs, then (name your poison) …

    In France for instance, since 2001 a judge can order such raids within a specified location and timeframe. They have to be motivated, and regulations exist as to which law enforcement personnel must be present, but then vehicle stop and search, id control and frisking (which is not assimilated to full body search) are legit. Only those who are arrested during such operations have to be notified of the initial motives – as for the others, it’s only a matter of good will from the police officers if they’re told why. And it’s only a matter of good PR from the authorities if the initial motives are published in the press the next days, along with the results of the raid – providing the results are significant. I’d be surprised if it was the only EU country to do so.

    Moreover, most European countries are also experiencing a wave of crackdown on traffic-related offenses, which include – even if the absence of a court order – testing for alcohol or drung influence but may as well allow policemen to have the driver open the trunk of his car under the pretense of checking mandatory safety items such as the spare wheel or emergency signal. That’s not a full vehicle search, yet…

    Like other posters, I guess this particular operation had to do with the Ozora & Sziget festivals. As much as I understand and share your concern, I’d be surprised if the raid you mention wasn’t entirely legal in Hungary. I’d also be surprised if, providing the opposition won the next election, such raids would stop. In this early 21st century Europe, appearing ‘tough on crime’ seems to be mandatory whether you’re on the left or the right – all at the expense of liberty.

    PS : by the way, I see no fundamental differences between these low-tech invasions of privacy in Europe and the more high-tech ways used, ahem, you know where.

  35. @andy:

    You really paint a bleak picture – a mixture of Putin’s Russia, Nazi Germany and even North Korea …

    Btw the tv news from M1, M2, Duna etc is already being called “North Korean state tv ” not only by me – the harmless variation is: Kiraly tv …

  36. tappanch :
    Poll by Nezopont, one of Fidesz’s own pollster, taken between August 6 and 10. Sample size was 1,000 people.
    Fidesz 32%
    Jobbik 10%
    Democratic opposition + uncertain “government changers” 35%
    others 23%
    http://nezopontintezet.hu/files/2013/08/Nezopont_Intezet_kozvelemeny_kutatas.pdf

    Poll by Ipsos, taken in August, sample size= 1,500
    Open & covert sympathizers combined

    Fidesz 34%
    Jobbik 11%
    Democratic opposition 32%

    not known 23%

    http://index.hu/belfold/2013/08/15/szonda_egyre_tobben_szavaznanak/

  37. gdfxx :
    googly: “In the US I remember that there used to be “checkpoints” set up during holidays that were known for heavy drinking, such as New Year’s eve, and at the checkpoints the police would stop everyone or anyone, without regard to reasonable suspicion, and check to see if they showed signs of being too inebriated to drive legally.”
    Yes, this happens. And everyone is stopped exactly for the reason to eliminate the discrimination argument. This is also the result of a court case. By the way, there is no degree of being inebriated that allows driving ).

    Technically speaking, you can be inebriated and legally drive, if the level of alcohol in your blood is below the legal amount but you are someone who is easily affected by alcohol. That may not be the legal use of the term, but I know people like that.

  38. @wolfy: re my comment No. 39 and
    @paul: re my comment 20
    Thank you for supporting some of my positions taken on the issues within this discussion.

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