The Hungarian far right and Russia

There has been a lot of discussion about the Russian sympathies of the extreme right parties in Europe. I have written extensively about Jobbik’s close ties with Russia. I’m sure that many readers remember the strange story of Béla Kovács, Jobbik EP MP, who, by the way, was just barred from the territory of Ukraine by the Ukrainian government. The reason? Most likely Kovács’s participation in the group that found everything in perfect order in the Crimean elections. Gábor Vona also visited Moscow, accompanied by Béla Kovács, and met important Russian political leaders.

The same affinity for Russia holds for France’s National Front, whose leader, Marine Le Pen, visited Moscow last summer and met similarly high-ranking politicians of the Russian Duma. Golden Dawn, the Greek fascist party, also has close connections to Moscow from where it receives financial assistance. When the Greek government imprisoned Nikos Michaloliakos, the party’s leader, Alexander Dugin, the author of Putin’s “Eurasian” ideology, actually sent him a letter in prison. Just to remind people: Gábor Vona also met Dugin in Moscow. And then there is Bulgaria’s far-right party, Ataka, that also has links to the Russian embassy.

All these parties and other right-wing fringe organizations support Russia’s annexation of Crimea and stand by Russia in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. They are all against the European Union and the United States. Most of them are also anti-Semitic, definitely anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian and Iranian.

A previously lesser-known right-wing portal in Hungary, Hídfő (Bridgehead), has recently come into prominence. It was this site that first broke the story that Hungary is secretly supplying tanks to the Ukrainian army. One of their readers saw a tank being transported by train toward Debrecen, which the editors of the portal found suspicious. Soon enough word spread that the tanks were destined for Ukraine. The Hungarian ministry of defense explained that the tanks had been sold to a Czech businessman who deals in used military equipment.

Later the Russian foreign ministry published an official statement stating that “weapons supplied to Ukraine by the EU member-countries … violate legally binding obligations–the Arms Trade Treaty.” The Russian foreign ministry was fairly well-informed on the details: “Hungary’s Defense Ministry is supplying Ukraine with armored vehicles, including T-72 tanks, through a ‘proxy agency.'” The Hungarian Foreign Ministry denied the Russian claim as “groundless.”

As a result of its revelation Hídfő, which apparently has a readership of 3,000/day, became internationally known.  And naturally that aroused the interest of investigative journalists in Atlatszo.hu, one of those NGOs that receive financial support from the Norwegian Civic Fund. They discovered a few interesting items about the organization that is likely behind Hídfő–Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal, a Hungarist organization that came into being in 1989. Originally it was called Magyar Nemzetiszocialista Akciócsoportok (National Socialist Action Groups) . It considers itself to be the legitimate successor to Ferenc Szálasi’s Arrow Cross Party.

Hídfő, as far as I could ascertain, was established on September 25, 2012, or at least that is the date when the first article appeared. The portal is full of anti-Israeli, anti-American, anti-European Union articles while it is fiercely pro-Russian, pro-Palestinian, and pro-Iranian. Their Russian connections must be substantial. While internet sites normally invite readers to express their satisfaction on Twitter and Facebook, Hídfő has only Vkontakte, a kind of Russian Facebook.

Hídfő is well informed on the exact military situation in Eastern Ukraine

Hídfő is well informed on the precise military situation in “New Russia”

An interesting article, originally published on tarsadalmivirtus.lapunk.hu, appeared in Hídfő in 2013. If one can believe the introduction, a single person writes all the articles; he sees himself as a great observer and analyst of international affairs. He also looks upon the European Union as an enemy that until now has been unable to grab only two countries: Ukraine and Belarus.  But the EU has plans concerning Ukraine. If it manages to get hold of Ukraine, its influence in Europe would be complete while “Russia would be squeezed into the Asian region.” European pressure is great on Ukraine and in case of a civil war “it is possible that Moscow will try to save the Russian population and the country will fall into several pieces.” This, however, will not satisfy the European Union. The final step of the evil European Union will be “the execution of Russia.” Romania will incorporate Moldova while the West will incite the Muslims of Russia to revolt. Eventually Russia will fall apart without any outside military action. Our man seems to know that “the Russian military leadership” has already worked out a strategy to prevent such an outcome. It includes the support of Russia nationalists in Ukraine, to be followed by “tremendous pressure on the Baltic states.” Whoever our man is, he predicted the events on the Russian-Ukrainian border fairly accurately.

Another far-right site is “Jövőnk” (Our Future). This Hungarist site has been in existence since January 2009. It would be fascinating to learn more about this group because the site suggests that they have plenty of money. They publish articles not only in Hungarian but also in English, French, German, Russian, Romanian, Slovak, and Serbian, which is a very expensive undertaking. The people behind Jövőnk are so enthusiastically pro-Russian that their articles could have been written in some Russian government office in Moscow and translated into Hungarian. This particular page will give you an idea about the editors’ infatuation with Vladimir Putin. In one of the articles there are enthusiastic lines about Putin building a Eurasian Empire, and not for a moment does the author worry about the implications of such an empire for his own country, Hungary.

A strange, inscrutable world about which we still know very little. We especially know very little about the nature of these groups’ ties to Russia and Iran. One can only hope that the Hungarian secret service is keeping an eye on these people, although I have my doubts about both the talent and the will of the security agents. When one reads articles in these extremist websites about the decline of the West and glowing descriptions of the East, one has the awful feeling that Viktor Orbán has quite a bit in common with these fellows. A rather frightening thought.

Advertisements

25 comments

  1. About Front National : Le Pen Jr has somehow been silent on Ukraine for a couple of months. Though A. Chauprade (recently elected to the EP), allegedly one of the party’s main advisors on geopolitics, is openly favorable to Russia – he was also one of the ‘observers’ in Crimea, and in June he met with Dugin (and Strache, and Siderov) in Vienna – she’s probably aware that the image of Russia in France, including among her voters, has been awful for quite some time now.

  2. Orban thinks very similarly to these strange journalists. Unfortunately, his advisors do too. The Demokrata which is one of the more extreme right wing media of the Fidesz media empire often contains very similar lines of arguments. It is considered mainstream among top Fidesz politicians and the more intellectual right wing readers. It is read by many in the foreign service establishment. Thus not surprisingly it is atlatszo and other private civil society organizations which try to get behind these shady websites and organizations. If it was only up to Orban and the state administration he owns, he would’ve sold us to the Russians openly. So he does it piece by piece through the shady energy deals he is striking with his new best friends and by allowing his counterparties to gain control over an ever increasing portion of the Hungarian media and minds of the people. This Hídfő is just one of the dozens of web pages the Russians operate in Hungarian language, including Russian friendly, anti EU conspiracy theory facebook pages with 40k plus regular readers. The most interesting thing about these websites, about this special info war is that it doesn’t matter if these sites turn out to be Russian fronts (in the mainstream media which is anyway distrusted by the readers of these sites), they still exert their power. These sites now reach in aggregate at least a few hundreds of thousands of regular Hungarian people and behind them are the millions of average Jobbik voters who have grave doubts about the EU and US and admire Russia’s apparent assertiveness. I don’t think the Hungarian secret service can be a match for the strategic Putin, after all the Russians must know the entire senior guard by name since before 1990 and they probably purchased the rest of the info. The Russians are extremely hard to stop and it won’t be the Hungarians who will do so. Orban probably made the realization that if he cannot stop them (including because the Russians already know about him too much), he might as well be a cheerleader for the Russians and among others get rich.

  3. “Orban thinks very similarly to these strange journalists. Unfortunately, his advisors do too. The Demokrata which is one of the more extreme right wing media of the Fidesz media empire often contains very similar lines of arguments. It is considered mainstream among top Fidesz politicians and the more intellectual right wing readers.”

    And the rank and file Fideszniksz – this view of Russia and the Ukrainian situation is pretty much exactly what I get from my wife’s family and friends.

    And yet many of these same people lived in the USSR until 1990, so know exactly what it was like then. Quite a few also risked a lot to get out in the early days of the Soviet collapse (when no one really knew, from one day to the next, what was going to happen).

    People apparently CAN be persuaded that black is white.

  4. The KGB/FSB at its best: Hungary supplying arms to Ukraine! File that under ‘misdirection’ and giving cover for your asset! The Hungarians really have no respect for Bruxelles if they expect them to swallow this juvenile nonsense.

    In the meantime, people, please take note: this is how the Russian operates. Obfuscation, misdirection…and all these right-wingers as allies has a simple explanation: MONEY. Russkij
    capitalism is all about buying ‘assets’–mostly human–in foreign lands.

  5. I’d be curious to know what stance the far right takes on the interpretation of the period 1945-1989 in Hungarian history. I thought the prevailing line was that it was a period of foreign occuptation — a la the 2010 constitution — during which the Hungarian nation was absolved of anything bad that it “allegedly” had done. But, seeing this apparent fraternal cooperation between the far right and the Putin regime, is the line now that 1945-1989 was rather purely the fault of communists, and therefore the Russian nation per se is absolved because it, like the Hungarian, had been under their evil sway? Does the Hungarian far right care that some groups in the Russian far right (and doubtless not only) fly the flag of the USSR, or wear patches that mash up the Hammer and Sickle with the emblem of the Romanovs? And what about the role of the Tsar at the Battle of Világos?

    …or have I thought about this altogether more than the Hungarian far right has?

  6. Re 1945-89:

    It’s probably very simple in Jobbik’s mind – of course the Jews!

    And now we have the “good ” Russians and their oil and gas to help Hungary …

    Though I wonder if they really believe that life outside the EU would be better for Hungarians – well maybe for a few Oligarchs.

  7. “…one has the awful feeling that Viktor Orbán has quite a bit in common with these fellows.”

    Of course. The money. Russians are certainly financing a lot of the far right activity in Europe (and I am sure Hungary) (as is Iran). And with Orban, there is no hiding the main source of future cash: Paks.
    The amazing part is that in the old days this behavior was called treason. Now?

  8. @Andrew

    Far-right movements in Europe have always been a pretty diverse crowd, ideologically speaking. Quite the tolerant bunch actually, until they come close to actual power – in which case ruthlessness takes over. The ‘international observers of the referendum in Crimea’ stunt was organized by a Belgian ‘national-bolshevik’…

    And Wolfi makes a very good point: the designated enemy #1 often matters most than anything else. Hence the current divide between ‘mainstream’ Western and Eastern European far-right parties: for the former, the enemy #1 is Muslims; for the latter, it’s Jews. But there are bridges between the two, like Austria’s FPÖ… and now Putin.

    Moreover, especially in the fringe movements, there is also a shared sense of ‘dark romanticism’, a common will to ‘scare the bourgeois’ through speech and acts that is more important than ideological coherence. Btw, the English translation of Emmanuel Carrère’s book ‘Limonov: a novel’ is due this Fall: though perhaps more from a literary than political point of view, it’s a great read.

    http://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374192013

  9. The drum beat in the USA of politicians such as Sen. Robert Menendez a Democrat and Senator John McCain a Republican over the weekend called on the Obama administration to provide weapons systems to the Ukraine to defend themselves against Russia. While it sends a message to Russia, it won’t solve the problem, nor will sanctions. I also suspect that both of these Senators have been briefed on various covert efforts to provide arms and ammunition to Ukrainian forces. Both Senators know it won’t work because the Poroshenko government itself has a corrupt decrepit and incompetent military who were lackeys for Russian puppet then-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych who passed himself off as the meditator of the “Orange Revolution” but all the while was a Putin agent who I believe is now living in Russia.

    There is an excellent discussion of how Yanukovvch stole the elections in Foreign Affairs http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/60620/adrian-karatnycky/ukraines-orange-revolution The article describes the massive corruption and criminality of the Ukraine and the role of oligarchs like Poroshenko in that corruption. The current military leadership of Ukraine headed by the general staff, 52-year-old Lieutenant-General Viktor Muzhenko, with Colonel-General Valery Heletey as defense minister is not clean.

    In 1983 Muzhenko graduated from the Leningrad Higher Military Command School. He then served in the Soviet Union’s Transcaucasian Military District, ending up being a commander of a motorized infantry battalion. He was a military official totally knowledgeable of and linked to forms of corruption in Yanukovvch’s government. Colonel-General Valery Heletey started career in police (MVS) he too was totally linked up with the corruption of Yanukovvch’s government. He is also a fool who stated only a few weeks ago he was “convinced that Ukraine will win, and trust me, a victory parade will certainly be held in a Ukrainian Sevastopol.”

    Sending arms to this military will not solve the problem, it needs to be completely rebuilt and purged of Russian agents. This can’t be done overnight and requires much more than sending weapons. Both of these Senators know this but do not want to admit it to the American public.

  10. OT: The EU opened its money faucet to help Orban and Lazar to build an illiberal country.
    Fidesz for a long time pumps great amount of money to protest against the EU, and to organize anti-EU campaign, fight for an EU independent Hungary, as well as to promote a Hungary that does not obey EU values but some alternative norms. Fidesz funnels money received from the EU to companies that receive contracts without any public tender.
    I guess the EU have also had enough of their own standards, and would like to follow the Hungarian model as they just agreed to pay 34,000,000,000 EU to Hungary in the next few years. Janos Lazar proudly announced that the real winners will be the agriculture. No kidding! All Fidesz buddies are already given the land leases of Hungary, and there were no background in agriculture were required.
    Thank you EU! THank you Baroso! As Orban will say Hungary 1, EU 0.

  11. It is also China which is watching how the world reacts to the Ukrainian invasion. China has several open territorial conflicts with many countries, none of which could resist the Chinese military for long. If Russia succeeds in obtaining these new territories in Ukraine, China will know that it can do so too, though the Chinese are not in a hurry.

  12. Was not a Gábor Vona Minister of Interiors in the Szálasi government? Is the Jobbik G.V. a grandson of the mentioned Szálasi minister?

    Carl Flesch

    Realpstr. 61

    CH-4054 Basel

    Tel: +41(0)61 3017740

  13. http://korrupcio.blog.hu/2014/09/02/lazar_janos_karacsonya

    Lazar’s mysterious meeting in Switzerland (he had similarly mysterious short trips to each London and Rome which eventually lead to the demise of http://www.origo.hu) earlier last year was about Paks. That is now clear.

    Lazar mentioned somewhere that a yet unnamed German business man “helped Hungary” to conclude the Paks agreement and it is clear from the above article that in Switzerland Lazar met with a German businessman and talked about “business relationships between Hungary and Germany and Hungary and Russia”. In other words, they – probably in the presence of others – negotiated the Paks deal.

    I would add that Orban and Lazar’s mysterious trip very recently to Germany/Switzerland was first about meeting an unidentified “friend” in Germany and then Orban and Lazar travelled further to Switzerland. My theory is that this friend is the same person who was previously called only a German businessman and after Orban and Lazar talked with him in Germany they continued the real discussion about Paks in Zurich with the Russians (and attended the cover event, a concert). Even the rumor about Zsuzsa Demcsak might have been decoy, as in Hungary voters are not really concerned about private matters, but they would be about secret meetings with Russian siloviki. So Lazar and the people helping him started this rumor to deflect attention from the real purpose, that is Paks and perhaps other energy deals. Of course I may be wrong.

  14. Istvan,

    You wrote: “Both Senators know it won’t work because the Poroshenko government itself has a corrupt decrepit and incompetent military who were lackeys for Russian puppet then-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych who passed himself off as the meditator of the “Orange Revolution” but all the while was a Putin agent who I believe is now living in Russia.”

    I’m not sure I understand your comment about Yanukovych – do you mean “mediator” when you write “meditator”? If so, are you sure you’re talking about Yanukovych? He was accused of stealing the election (or having it stolen for him by his oligarch bosses, since he’s not so bright), not mediating or in any way being in the middle. Perhaps you mean Viktor Yushchenko, though he was not exactly in the middle, but rather firmly on the side of the demonstrators. Still, since he was such a disaster as president, perhaps he was on the payroll of Putin, and now living in Russia.

    I’m also surprised you didn’t bring Tymoshenko into this, since she is just another oligarch who was accused by Yanukovych of conspiring with Putin to rip Ukrainian taxpayers off (to Putin’s probably fake consternation).

    As far as not being able to do anything to save Ukraine militarily, you may be correct, but I imagine that most Ukrainian oligarchs would do just about anything to avoid being subjugated by Putin, who treats Russian oligarchs like servants. That goes double for the oligarchs who are based in Luhansk and Donetsk, since they will likely lose most of what’s left of their wealth once those areas become Russian (why should Putin let them keep what he worked hard and sacrificed for, especially since they would have no power to stop him?). Even corrupt thieves will stand and fight if you threaten their ill-gotten gains, and Putin has already shut down Ukrainian oligarch-owned industries in Russia. Perhaps the Ukrainian oligarchs are naive and have been convinced by Putin that they will be able to prosper under the new system, but they probably wouldn’t be oligarchs if they were so gullible.

Comments are closed.