Fidesz at a far-right conference in Moscow

It was only today that, a Hungarian internet portal, reported on an extreme right-wing gathering in Moscow on September 10-11 where the Hungarian government was represented by Gergely Prőhle, undersecretary in the Ministry of Human Resources. I myself learned about this event earlier from the excellent German-language blog on Hungarian affairs, PusztarangerThe story is quite complicated, so let’s start at the beginning.

The World Congress of Families that sponsored the Moscow conference is an American based organization that opposes same-sex marriage, pornography, and abortion. Because of its militant anti-gay stand, especially its involvement with the 2013 Russian LGBT propaganda law opposing LGBT rights internationally, WCF was designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT hate group. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States, called WCF “one of the most influential groups in America promoting and coordinating the exportation  of anti-LGBT bigotry, ideology, and legislation abroad.” HRC claimed that their international conferences gather “the most fringe activists engaged in anti-LGBT extremism.”

WCF has organized annual congresses ever since 1997 when it was established. This year the eighth congress was scheduled to be held in Moscow on September 10-11. This particular congress was to carry the title: World Congress of Families VIII: “Every Child a Gift: Large families–The Future of Humanity.” But then came the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Three Russians–Vladimir Yakunin, Yelena Mizulina, and Aleksey Pushkov–who were involved with the conference were among those sanctioned by the United States and Australia right after the annexation. Under these circumstances WCF, which normally has very good relations with the Russian government and the Russian right, tried to make itself invisible. After all, other groups, such as Concerned Women for America, pulled out of the project, saying that they “don’t want to appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.” So WCF’s name was removed from the program. They decided to call it “International Forum: Large Family and Future of Humanity.” Although the organizing committee still listed two prominent leaders of WCF, they hid their affiliations.

Sharing organizational tasks with WCF were the Russian Orthodox Church, the Vladimir Yakunin Center of National Glory, the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, and Konstantin Malofeev’s Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. Both Yakunin and Malofeev are among the oligarchs sanctioned by the United States and the European Union. According to Anton Shekhovtsov’s blog, Malofeev has high-level connections with EU-based far right parties and was deeply involved in unleashing the Ukrainian crisis. Apparently a meeting between leaders of far-right parties in Europe and Russian right-wingers, including Malofeev, took place in Vienna in June. Their goal was to “rescue Europe from liberalism and the gay lobby.” Among the participants were Aymeric Chauprade (National Front, France), Heinz-Christian Strache, and Johann Gudenus (FPÖ, Austria). I wouldn’t surprised if Béla Kovács of Jobbik, whom Fidesz accused of spying for the Russians, were also present. Chauprade was at the congress in Moscow and had a large role to play in the proceedings. So was the Austrian FPÖ’s Johann Gudenus. The conference ended with the issuance of a proclamation that blasts liberal social policies in Western countries and calls for Russian-style “homosexual propaganda” bans to be enacted throughout the world.

Enter Gergely Prőhle, who is no stranger to the readers of Hungarian Spectrum. He had a distinguished diplomatic career: he was ambassador to Germany and Switzerland and in the second Orbán administration served as assistant undersecretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In comparison to some of the others, Prőhle seemed moderate–at least until I read an op/ed piece of his in Heti Válasz about the controversial monument to the German occupation of Hungary in 1944. I devoted a whole post to that opinion piece in which Prőhle showed his less attractive side.

Prőhle was one of three hundred employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who got the boot from the interim minister, Tibor Navracsics. For a while it looked as if his government career was over. But then he received an offer from Zoltán Balog, minister of human resources, to become an undersecretary in charge of international and European Union affairs. (One would think that “international” includes the European Union, but this government’s naming habits are rather peculiar.)

It was in this new capacity that Prőhle was dispatched to Moscow to represent the Hungarian government at this illustrious conclave. It is hard to tell whether the bright lights in the ministry were aware of WCF’s involvement in the congress. It is also unclear whether they knew that the French and Austrian far-right parties would be taking center stage at the gathering. In the final analysis, however, even if they were uninformed, ignorance is no excuse. If nothing else,  Zoltán Balog and Gergely Prőhle were careless and negligent. Of course, it is also possible, perhaps even likely, that members of the government felt that good relations with Russia were of paramount importance to Hungary and therefore they should not turn down an invitation coming from Moscow.

Gergely Prőhle at a conference organized by far-right groups in Moscow, September 10-11, 2014

Gergely Prőhle at a far-right conference in Moscow, September 10-11, 2014

One thing is sure. Official Hungary did not boast about Prőhle’s presence at the Moscow conference. MTI made no mention of the conference, and neither the journalist at nor I found anything about the event on the ministry’s website. However, discovered on the Russian Orthodox Church’s website that Gergely Prőhle was among the speakers at the conference, along with Aymeric Chauprade, a member of the European Parliament, and Johann Gudenus (FPÖ), a member of the Austrian parliament. Gudenus delivered his speech in Russian because, according to his German-language entry on Wikipedia, he “regularly attended summer courses at the Lononosov University of Moscow and received a Russian Certificate from the Education Ministry of the Russian Federation.” put a number of questions to the ministry and got some meaningless answers. They denied that the oligarchs had anything to do with the conference; it was organized by the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church. When inquired about the gathering that was studded with extreme right groups, the answer was that “it is possible that they were also there but Gergely Prőhle represented the family policy of the Hungarian government.” The ministry proudly announced that Prőhle spoke “between Russia’s Chief Rabbi and the Russian Chief Mufti.” Well, in that case everything must be okay.

It’s too bad that the journalist failed to inquire about the manifesto the congress issued that lambasted liberal Europe and called for a ban on “homosexual propaganda.” It would be interesting to know whether Prőhle, the man in charge of European affairs, signed this document on behalf of Hungary.


  1. Eva S. Balogh put a number of questions to the ministry and got some meaningless answers. They denied that the oligarchs had anything to do with the conference; it was organized by the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The denial is all the more hilarious as 1) Chauprade thanked Malofeev at the beginning of his introductory speech the first day & 2) St Basil’s Foundation was mentioned from the start as a major sponsor of the event in the Russian media, etc.

    Look who made the first picture here:

    Does the undersecretary want the Hungarian media to think he is a liar, or a fool?

    PS: It’s Lomonossov University.

  2. The fact that even the far right homophobic WCF which is US based does not want to be publicly associated with Putin’s Russian Federation shows how badly Russia is thought of in the USA by both the right and the liberal left.

  3. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Mr. Prõhle is the son of a reform church bishop and theology professor and himself, in addition to serving in the ministry of a reform church pastor, is the president of the Hungarian Reform Church. The same one that has invariably supported and often instigated ultra-right wing causes and organizations. He is a very personable fellow, not unlike those “moderate muslims” sheltering behind their own charming personality and public persona the most heinous fundamentalist bigotry.

  4. @ambator

    reformed church = Calvinist != Lutheran (Prõhle is a lay leader of the Lutheran church, while he is a government official at the same time. Separation of church, state and political party, or separation of the executive and legislative branch are non-existent in Orban’s Hungary)


    Lomonosov University is called MGU in the local parlance.

  5. @gdfxx: you’re right, I improperly used the French transliteration of this extraordinary man’s name.

    @ambator: I welcome the details, however I’m not so sure his personal opinions matter as much as the fact that he was obviously representing the country, which wasn’t the case for the Austrian MP nor the French MEP.

    If I’m not mistaken, he was the only official representative of an EU member state speaking at this event. Dr Balogh’s question in her last sentence makes perfect sense.

  6. A Russian view about radical nationalism in Europe.

    “Latvia and Greece leads in xenophobic attitudes (Greece has been improving recently).”

    “Some countries actively seek the revision of the results of the second world war and
    rehabilitate pro-Nazi collaborators (Baltic countries, Ukraine, Romania and Hungary).”

    The survey was summarized in the book “White Book of Nazism” and it was supported by a Russian oligarch.

  7. Bill Clinton: „There’s the authoritarian capitalism model which is Russia and in a different way China, and it has some appeal. Like the Hungarian Prime Minister – they owe a lot to America; he just said he liked authoritarian capitalism, just saying “I don’t ever want to have to leave power” – usually those guys want to stay forever and make money. And there’s the democracy model …”

  8. I had to look this up …

    First I found a report on thousands of stray dogs being killed there and German animal activists asking for help …

    Then I read on a travel site about “The haunted destination of the week”:

    “Vlad the Impaler — known to us as Dracula — ruled Wallachia, Romania, from Targoviste Castle in the 1400s. ”

    Then I read on wiki:

    “Târgoviște was the site of the trial and execution of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena in December 1989.”

    Now which of these has any connection to Orbán?

  9. Number of “fostered workers” (közmunkások) in 2014.

    Month: # in thousands

    11: 179.4
    12: 202.7
    01: 198.3
    02: 200.3
    03: 209.1
    04: 211.7 <—- general election

    05: 98.8
    06: 153.6
    07: 179.1 <—- data published today
    10: <—- local election

  10. Ceaușescu was in power for nearly 24 years before they got rid of him.

    Orbán has only been in power 4 years…

  11. July 2014 [July 2013]

    Regular employees in enterprises with more than 4 employees and in non-profits:
    1960.4 [1906.1], up by 2.85%

    Fostered workers paid by enterprises with more than 4 employees and by non-profits:
    23.3 [17.0], up by 37.06%

    Regular employees in government jobs:
    699.7 [671.9], up by 4.14%

    Fostered workers paid from the state budget:
    155.7 [130.9], up by 18.95%

  12. Orban promised, in March 2010, one million new jobs by 2020.

    Let us see how he delivered so far!

    July 2014 [July 2010], in thousands of jobs

    in enterprises: 1,884.5 [1,853.6], up by 30.9 (1.67%).
    This number includes an unknown number of employees that actually work abroad, but counted in the Hungarian statistics!

    in state (budgetary) positions, including fostered workers: 855.4 [780.8], up by 74.6 (9.56%)

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