The smoking gun? A video of Fidesz money being given to voters in Baja

If this video, available on YouTube, is genuine, Viktor Orbán and Fidesz are in serious trouble. It was again HVG that received the video, I assume a few days ago. Why did they release it only today? I suspect because they wanted to be sure about its authenticity since this 10-minute video is dynamite.

The video records a meeting between four Roma voters and somebody, identified as R. G., who seems to be acting on behalf of Csaba Kovács, the Fidesz candidate in the by-election in Baja, and Róbert Zsigó, mayor of the city and one of the principal spokesmen of Fidesz. R.G. was filling in for the official go-between, Szilveszter Horváth, the head of the local Roma self-government, who was allegedly busy.

R. G. brought along 200,000 forints for the four men as payment for their votes in the first round of the election which eventually had to be repeated. It turned out that these men had been promised 50,000 forints each at the time, but in the end they got only 10,000. So, they were suspicious of R. G. and the promises of Kovács and Zsigó. Cash on the table, however, made them more cooperative. R. G. also promised more money, which he himself was to deliver on Monday right after the repeat election. In addition, the four families were promised firewood. That is, if Kovács wins the election.

HVG sent a copy of the video to Róbert Zsigó’s press secretary with the message that the online news site will release the video today at 1:30 p.m. After the release of the video they did get an e-mail from Zsigó in which he claimed that he doesn’t know any of the people on the video. In his opinion, the video is a fake. He informed HVG that the local Fidesz leadership had already reported to the police that some people had tried to bribe people in Fidesz’s name. But these people had absolutely nothing to do with the party. In brief, the democratic parties staged this phony scene in order to challenge the results of the election that Fidesz won fair and square.

When the Fidesz candidate won the election the second time around, the democratic parties, although they had some proof of fraud, decided not to demand yet another round. The decision was most likely political. The people of Baja had had enough of what some people called an absolute circus and most likely would not have been happy with more of the same. Moreover, it is unlikely that the local Fidesz forces would have behaved any better than before, and losing three times in a row is certainly not good for the image of the anti-Fidesz forces.

Now suddenly they changed their minds. Attila Mesterházy announced that they will ask the court to order another round. Unfortunately, as often happens nowadays, the opposition displayed a blissful ignorance of the electoral law. There is only a very narrow window, I think three days, during which a remedy can be sought by the aggrieved party. They are too late.

There is, however, another avenue: sue Kovács, Zsigó, Szilveszter Horváth, Tibor Ajtai (another Roma leader), and this mysterious R. G. for electoral fraud, a crime that carries a sentence of up to three years in jail. There is, however, a caveat: the law makes no distinction between the one who pays for the vote and the one who accepts money for it. That would mean jail sentences as well for those Gypsies who turned the video over to HVG.

HVG is usually very careful with cases like this one, and I assume that they consulted not only video experts but also their lawyers about the legal status of those who were involved with the recording. One potential defense would be that the Roma voters set a trap for these men in the name of justice. Why else would they have given the video to HVG?

Meanwhile, there is at least one blogger who has some questions about the authenticity of the video. He finds the setup somewhat artificial, as if the man with the camera was waiting for the visitor who begins talking even before he sits down. He considers the telephone call R. G. receives from Csaba Kovács in the middle of the negotiations suspicious. And who is the phantom man whose cell phone is used for the video? Why don’t the people present tell him not to video the exchange? In the final analysis, however, the blogger expresses his belief that HVG is far too professional to claim authenticity without having proof. The blogger predicts that the story “isn’t ending here. On the contrary it’s just begun.”

Fidesz immediately moved. By 5 p.m. today the party went to the police and reported criminal conduct in connection with the by-election. Even earlier they suspected that criminal fraud was being committed by the anti-Fidesz forces when they learned that some unknown people had offered firewood to the voters. Therefore, even before the actual election, they reported their suspicions to the police.

At the same time MSZP also went to the police and demanded an investigation. Csaba Molnár, vice-chairman of DK, handed in a written question to Péter Polt, the chief prosecutor, concerning the case. Benedek Jávor of Együtt-PM predicted that if the video is genuine the scandal through Róbert Zsigó will reach the highest echelons of Fidesz and in this case “it might be Viktor Orbán’s political death sentence.”

Advertisements

31 comments

  1. They’ll lie their way out of it, no one will care, they’ll get away with it

    But enjoy it while it lasts, in a few years time there won’t be even this much democracy and freedom.

    Orbán may profess to hate the Communists, but he’s learnt well from them.

  2. There is something strange about the video. First I thought the camera was hidden, but the angle keeps changing and so is the zooming.

    In any case, if this mysterious R.G. is found, he may have to decide whether going to jail is worth defending those who gave him this job. And if enough money is offered, maybe he will take a few years in jail…

  3. Come now, you just can’t be this hard on these poor guys, can you?
    Originally they wanted to grant citizenship as repayment in Baja too, but there was this problem, you know, it turned out, surprise, surprise, that the Roma people of Baja already Hungarian – so, what else could they have offered, but really?
    A little more compassion, people, toward our beloved Party and our Fearless Leader, please!

  4. Interesting, I was about to ask.. it was determined there was enough electoral fraud to force a do over yet no apparent investigation by an electoral council that would have the authority to press charges against those committing the fraud???

    At the beginning the camera is moved and is zooming. Then after a minute it is adjusted again and then bumped. It’s hand held for sure. Phone call during the meeting…. that should be all that is needed. Cell location would put this person in the room! R.G. should be easy to find with this much information.

    As for authenticity, it would be very difficult to create this video and not leave any fingerprints. As you’ve said, verification is surely why HVG didn’t release until the knew. If this election stands…..

  5. Why should it not be taken by someone openly, if they needed the proof that indeed this time they will get the 50,000 and not 10,000. I am reading here frequently how “clever” and “professional” Fidesz is, this video might perhaps make people re-think whether this is indeed so correct. No, the problem is not that they are “too clever” but that you can just violate basic principles of a “democratic” society and people say “nothing can be done about it” or “that happens everywhere”. Why should you then care that such behaviour might become public? We know already that people will do nothing, which is why also Fidesz will not need to do anything. For people to really become upset they would need to know what they CAN do about it. Etc. So I would be very surprised if this video might eventually make people protest in large numbers.

  6. If genuine, it would ultimately cause resignations at the highest level in most other countries – mainly because an independent, free, mainstream media would not let the matter rest until it did so.

    But here? I doubt it will cause so much as a ripple on the Balaton.

    The strangest thing of all is that, as the rerun shows, they didn’t even NEED to cheat.

  7. In the worst case, this video might serve as canvassing. “If nothing else, we can get at least those 40,000 from Fidesz.”

  8. @Ivan

    The media is not even the most important thing. The chief prosecutor is simply not willing to indict any fellow fidesznik of importance.

  9. Do you seriously think someone can arrange this idiotic comedy, the casting and then a screenplay and the directing??

    This is Eastern-Europe and this is the – absurd – reality.

    Also it works, votes are actually purchased and the Gipsy community is well organized in this respect.

    Loan sharking is everywhere in the country-side, and human trafficking (of underage women to Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain and elsewhere) is huge in Szabolcs/Borsod/Szolnok counties — all done by a rich slice of the Roma community exploiting their fellow, but poor Romas citizens.

    This rich, thuggish Roma slice of the community (every village has its 1-2 families, clans you don’t want to mess with) has the right info about their most exploitable citizens (who would be open to the sale of their votes) and have the power to make such voting happen. Of course these Romas are themselves uneducated and primitive (as we see from the video), but these facts doe not make the case any less true. It is a business for them. Local slot machine business is now gone mostly in small towns so these gangsters are obviously open to other businesses, it may that this is a kind of compensation: we (Fidesz) took away your business, but we give you some money for this if you deliver.

    This is the local reality. Politically not correct, but the reality nonetheless.

  10. OT: the EU is often mentioned here.

    This article gives an idea why the EU will never act decisively (against Orbán or anybody else), why smart people like Orbán will always win over the EU and why every seemingly tough stance of the EU is diluted eventually so that it favors business interest (mostly from the US, mind you). Whether environmental, data protection or energy, the policy will be diluted. Orbán does the same in a slightly different form. The EU is just the hot butter into which the knives of smart lobbyists can cut.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/world/europe/lobbying-bonanza-as-firms-try-to-influence-european-union.html?hpw&pagewanted=all

  11. Talking about smart people. It looks as there is a good possibility that the video is a fake actually ordered by the Baja Fidesz crew. The purpose? To show that there was never any fraud in Baja and it was the other side that tried to prove with this fake video to prove Fidesz’s guilt. Sounds quite plausible.

  12. Is it really likely that a party that is leading massively in the polls and has rigged the electoral system to a point where there is no realistic chance of them not winning election would adopt such a risky strategy as to fake a video that portrays them as villains as part of a longer term game?

  13. The “Roma mafia” situation is nicely described in the movie Kalandorok – has nobody seen it besides us ?

  14. Eva S. Balogh :
    Talking about smart people. It looks as there is a good possibility that the video is a fake actually ordered by the Baja Fidesz crew. The purpose? To show that there was never any fraud in Baja and it was the other side that tried to prove with this fake video to prove Fidesz’s guilt. Sounds quite plausible.

    What is even a lot more plausible is that MSZP directed this video to “prove” that Fidesz bought votes.

  15. Pester Lloyd today has pointed out that whoever made the video, a crime has been committed. If the video is genuine the crime is buying votes. If the video is not genuine the crime is fabrication of false evidence.

    The people seen in the video know the truth but you cannot be sure that they will tell it. However, they may not be found.

  16. Have you read Agota Kristof’s “Le grand cahier”? I have not, but I saw the movie based on the book today. This movie is the first finished movie supported by the Orban government.

    I liked the artistry in the movie.
    Still, the chronology presented is impossible in several aspects, and I would like to point out one thing here.

    In the movie, the Jews of Kőszeg are deported in the winter of 1944 by Arrow Cross people.
    In reality, they were deported under the Horthy regime, on June 18, 1944.

    I would like to know whether the dates were altered by the writer, or Orban’s apparatchiks asked director Szasz to alter the historical facts.

  17. All right, I am able to answer my own question. The writer does not say when the deportation takes place. The title of the small chapter in the English translation of the book is “The Human Herd”.

    “At a bend in the road an army jeep full of foreign officers appears.
    The jeep is moving slowly, followed by soldiers carrying their rifles on their shoulders.
    Behind them is a sort of human herd. Children like us. Women like our mother. Old men like
    the cobbler.

    Two or three hundred of them pass by, flanked by soldiers. A few women are carrying small
    children on their backs, on their shoulders, or cradled against their breasts. One of them falls; hands reach out to catch the child and the mother; they must be carried, because a soldier has already pointed his rifle at them.

    No one speaks, no one cries; their eyes are fixed on the ground. The only sound is the noise of the soldiers’ hobnail boots.”.

    So the facts were altered by the movie director.

  18. @ Tappanch. I read that book a very long time ago, before I ever came to Hungary. Not only is Koszeg not mentioned, I believe there is no mention even of Hungary. There are no Hungarian names in the book. It is just a small village from the perspective of two boys with Germanic-sounding names (Klaus and Lucas).

    The author didn’t even write it in Hungarian. She wrote it in French.

  19. FreeHU :

    Is there any doubt that with or without this video Viktor and his friends are liars?

    One thing is definitely true. The employees of MTI are under pressure to report news to the liking of the government. Also, if some’s report is not quite “right,” I’m sure that they change it in Budapest.

  20. FreeHU :

    Is there any doubt that with or without this video Viktor and his friends are liars?

    One thing is definitely true. The employees of MTI are under pressure to report news to the liking of the government. Also, if a correspondent’s report is not quite “right,” I’m sure that they change it in Budapest to make it “correct.” Very few papers can afford to keep a correspondent in Brussels. Népszabadság is an exception but I don’t think that even she reported the case correctly.

  21. HiBoM :
    Is it really likely that a party that is leading massively in the polls and has rigged the electoral system to a point where there is no realistic chance of them not winning election would adopt such a risky strategy as to fake a video that portrays them as villains as part of a longer term game?

    It isn’t about winning or not – it is the maniac need to show up the overwhelming superiority at any price. Winning is not optional, its a must to them who obsessed with might and power, – in our case dear Viktor & Co, – they have to prove somehow time and again just how good they are, particularly to their still loyal supporters.
    Never mind, that the really strong ones never need this kind of proof, but hey, this is Orange Country, the world turning the other way around, time flies backward, everything working differently – in case you haven’t noticed yet.

    Otherwise they risked naught.
    In any decent fairly civilised country they would have been put away for good long ago, not only by the voters, but by the law-enforcement and the Justice too, but in Hungary they making their own law, and even that they breaking and overstepping regularly with no consequences, whatsoever.
    Knowing of the moral “flexibility” of the Fidesz henchmen in general and Orbán’s in particular, I am pretty sure, that this little gig is only a warm up, a test if you like, whether or not the event was arranged. What important is the reactions what it generates.

    – And I dare to promise you, there will be none with any fundamental effect.

    Remember, this is Hungary, folks!

  22. — This comment that I originally placed under the following day’s topic’ actually belongs here —

    I’ll be curious to find out who exactly ordered the production of the video depicting buying votes.

    By looking at the video, it’s evidently fake. It appeared to me from the first moment I got a glimpse. Too good, too obvious, too well focussed on the scene, everything is sufficiently and predictably in place (that is, perfect for the situation) to be real.

    It’s symptomatic of people here to imagine that perceptive individuals are not able to differentiate. Whatever the finding of the ‘truth’ behind its motivation and production, the final result is going to shed light on just how the average citizen behind vairous machinations lacks the sophistication to predict in advance the trasparency of misdeeds as they occur.

    Consequently the fake film will shed a light of wider scope onto the mental attitude of persons in the wheeling and dealing behind politics at the average functining level of the political system and possibly how individuals involved are not being supervised from ‘above’ but acting as independent operatives…

  23. andy ‘stratospheria’ :
    I’ll be curious to find out who exactly ordered the production of the video depicting buying votes.

    For some reason nobody seem to consider the possibility, that wasn’t at all necessary to “order” the video – it may well could be a simple plot to make some money.
    Just think about it, what if someone came to the ingenious idea, that since there is/was quite a demand for some proof, then make and sell one?

    What turned my thoughts in this direction was a few lines in the news: one of the alleged participants asked for 300 000 HUF – about 1000 € – for further information.
    Looks like strictly “business” to me at this point.

  24. Dr Balogh writes: “Talking about smart people. It looks as there is a good possibility that the video is a fake actually ordered by the Baja Fidesz crew. The purpose? To show that there was never any fraud in Baja and it was the other side that tried to prove with this fake video to prove Fidesz’s guilt. Sounds quite plausible. ”

    Yes Dr Balogh, and the communist show trials were also organized by the victimes, to embarass the communist regimes. This type of posting shows, that you are not a historian, but an agitprop secretary.

  25. Oh please… just how long does it take for the police to “convince” the participants on this video that they’d better support whatever version Fidesz has on the story… how come anybody believes anything that comes from official sources anymore (police, HirTV and all other Fidesz affiliates)

  26. OMG. What a cheap country. The future of your children is worth a cord of wood in Fideszland.

    By the way so many things are related to wood by the way. Get a load of this.

    Orban’s new son-in-law illegally cut down the trees on some people’s land. It is a sinister plot by developers to buy out the land.

    Later the guy even photographed himself and Orban’s daughter, Rachel, with the tractor they used to steal the wood.

    Now the authorities are suing the OWNERS for cutting down protected forest and threatening them with hefty fines. Guess what? The good samaritan Orban kin is offering the owners to take care of the lawsuit if they sell the land.

    Congrats Kovach to you political preferences.

  27. Louis Kovach :
    Yes Dr Balogh, and the communist show trials were also organized by the victimes, to embarass the communist regimes. This type of posting shows, that you are not a historian, but an agitprop secretary.

    Brilliant logic, excellent deduction, Louis…
    Really!
    To arrive from Baja to the “communist show trials” in one single sentence is such a great achievement, it must be remembered, taught even!
    And you haven’t stopped there, but made a personal rebuke as well, as an answer to your own conclusion..!

    It really is something, you know…
    Someone must be very proud of you, indeed.

  28. People like Louis and Johnnyboy are necessary (there is a “leto” on pol.hu who fulfills a similar role …) to remind us how things can go terribly wrong in someone’s mind.

    So keep up the good work, Louise!

  29. http://hvg.hu/velemeny/20131020_bajai_video

    Jelen pillanatban nem tudjuk, hogy kiknek áll érdekében és lehetőségében megrendezni egy olyan szituációt, amelyben bűncselekmény elkövetésével vádolja magát több ember, illetve bűncselekmény elkövetését imitálja. Csak annyit tudunk, hogy a körülményektől függetlenül súlyos, megengedhetetlen hibát követtünk el, amiért nem háríthatjuk másra a felelősséget, és aminek a tanulságait nekünk kell levonnunk.

Comments are closed.