Mysterious trips of Viktor Orbán and János Lázár to Switzerland

Today I will have to pull up my socks if I want to give even a semi-coherent summary of the growing scandal surrounding a company called MET Holding A.G. with headquarters in Switzerland. The holding company, established only a couple of years ago, is partially owned by MOL (40%) and partially by Hungarian individuals–people formerly employed by MOL and businessmen with close ties to Viktor Orbán.

First of all, it’s hard to decipher the company’s structure which is, as is often the case with enterprises like MET Holding, extremely complicated. Second, since it is likely that MET Holding, in addition to its regular activities, also serves as a money laundering operation for Fidesz as well as Viktor Orbán and his friends, those involved do everything in their power to conceal the company’s business activities, ownership, financials, and so on.

I should go back a few years to February 2010, only a month before the national election and the birth of the two-thirds majority, when the U.S. Embassy in Budapest compiled a report entitled “Allegations of political corruption surround unbundling law.” From the lengthy report we learn that “it is an open secret in Hungary that MVM and MOL provide significant funding to the two main political parties, with MVM rumored to favor the Socialists and MOL favoring Fidesz.”

MET Group predated this U.S. report. According to its promotional material, it began operating in 2007 “in the natural gas retail and wholesale sector benefiting from the market liberalization starting in 2004.” Currently it is active in wholesale gas trading in the European market as well as in the retail sale of natural gas to industrial customers in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Croatia. Five years later, in 2012 MET Holding was established with the objective of being “a central holding organization to manage and support all the subsidiaries of MET Group.” (If you want to know why MET Holding might have been layered on top of MET Group, I suggest you take a look at “How a Holding Company Works.”)

Shortly after the election in 2010 Orbán promised cheaper energy to consumers. In order to lower prices the state-owned MVM (Magyar Villamossági Művek) was allowed to dip into its gas reserves which it could then replenish with cheaper gas from the open market. MVM could have bought the necessary gas directly from Austria, but instead it purchased gas through MET. According to the figures that are available about the transaction, MVM gained little while MET made about 50 billion forints on the deal.

The owners of MET, in addition to MOL, are István Garancsi, a personal friend of Viktor Orbán and owner of Orbán’s favorite football team, Videoton, and György Nagy, one of the founders of Wallis Asset Management Co., a private equity/venture capital firm. Both men have close ties to Zsolt Hernádi, the beleagured CEO of MOL who is accused of bribery in Croatia, and to Sándor Csányi, his deputy and the CEO of OTP, Hungary’s largest bank. Heading MET Holding is Benjamin Lakatos. He expects sales this year to total some 3.8 billion euros.

Most likely nobody would have cared about this Hungarian company with headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, if Hungary’s prime minister hadn’t been so involved in negotiations with Putin as well as with Russian energy companies, in particular Gazprom and Rossatom, the Russian company that specializes in building nuclear power plants. Rossatom was chosen to construct two extra reactors at the Paks power plant. Given the widespread concern over Viktor Orbán’s dealings with the Russian autocrat, Swiss journalists started probing into this mysterious MET. A  well researched article appeared on November 3 in TagesAnzeiger, which was later reprinted in Basler Zeitung. According to the Swiss paper, MET Power, MET Marketing, MET International, and MET Holding all share the same Zug address. Benjamin Lakatos is the CEO of all of them. Zug, by the way, is about 20 km south of Zurich.

I understand that the company’s management is made up of former MOL employees who know the energy business inside out but who found greater opportunities outside of MOL. Lakatos is very proud of his achievement of building MET Holding in two years from practically nothing to a sizable player in the energy business, though one cannot help but be suspicious of a such a sudden rise in fortune. Moreover, given the cozy relationship in the past between MOL and Fidesz, one wonders what role MET may play in the possibly continued reliance of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán on MOL as a source of illicit money. With István Garancsi’s name in the cast of characters, one becomes doubly suspicious since he is often portrayed in the Hungarian press as Orbán’s front man.

And now let’s move to more recent events that might have something to do with MET Holding. I’m patching the story together from several sources. You may recall that the editor-in-chief of Origo, an online news portal, was dismissed because one of the reporters of the internet site was too curious about a couple of very expensive trips János Lázár, the most important member of the Orbán government after the prime minister, made to Great Britain and Switzerland. Lázár for a long time resisted revealing any details of these trips but eventually after a court order the prime minister’s office released some information. Among the bits and pieces of information that Origo received, there was one item that might be relevant. Origo was informed that János Lázár during his Swiss trip “held conversations with a German citizen about German-Hungarian and Russian-Hungarian relations.”

More than a year later there was another trip to Switzerland. This time it was a private affair. Viktor Orbán and his wife and János Lázár and his wife spent a weekend in Zurich. First they stopped in Germany to visit a “family friend” and then off they went to Zurich, allegedly to attend a concert given by a children’s choir from the Szekler areas of Romania. Quite a lame excuse for traveling to Zurich because earlier this same group gave three concerts in the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. There was also a side trip to visit a friend in Germany. Is he perhaps the same man Lázár held talks with in March 2012?

About a week ago Viktor Orbán made another trip to Switzerland. This time the occasion was a family visit (including his wife and their two youngest daughters) with Rachel, who is enrolled in a fancy, expensive hotel management course in Lausanne. Since, again, this was a private visit, the prime minister’s office refused to release any information about the trip. However, thanks to an eagle-eyed person, Orbán was spotted at the  Zurich railroad station having a beer with an unidentified man. Since the Orbáns decided to travel back to Hungary by train, a stopover in Zurich was unavoidable since there is no direct train from Geneva, a forty-minute train ride from Lausanne. But why did he choose to go by train from Lausanne all the way to Budapest, a trip that takes altogether 16 hours and 22 minutes? He said that wanted to spend more time with his children. Well, I could imagine many more pleasant ways of spending time with my family than sitting in a second-class train compartment. Suspicious Hungarians already have their own theory: for one reason or other, Orbán chose to travel by train because there is no inspection of either persons or luggage on trains. I find that difficult to believe. I hope that we are not at a point that the country’s prime minister is carrying millions of euros in his suitcase.

Although one can probably discard such speculation, one should take more seriously the information received by the Demokratikus Koalíció that while in Zurich Orbán met representatives of Credit Suisse and Pictet Bank. Pictet is a private bank which in 2012 was the target of a U.S. probe into the use of foreign banks by wealthy Americans seeking to avoid paying taxes. Pictet specializes in “wealth management.” As for Credit Suisse, which is one of the most powerful banks in the world, it also had its problems with the law. In July 2014 Credit Suisse reported a loss of $779 million because of the settlement of a tax evasion case in the United States. Zsolt Gréczy, the spokesman for DK, emphasized that they are not accusing Orbán of anything; they simply want to know whether he met with representatives of these two banks as the prime minister of Hungary or as a private individual.

All in all, the picture that emerges from the few pieces of information we have is not pretty. Orbán has enough trouble as it is. Tonight another 10,000 people demanded Ildikó Vida’s resignation–and his as well.

55 comments

  1. Excellent research! I think Hungary’s MOL is involved in a semi-legal “oil-smuggling” operation from Kurdistan. I wouldn’t be surprised is the Swiss do the trading and financial part of the business. According to US law the whole thing is illegal, but of course Hernadi’s name already appeared on the Interpol wanted list…. he decided to go all the way with the boys!

    http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/301020142

  2. “The owners of MET, in addition to MOL, … György Nagy, one of the founders of Wallis Asset Management Co..” WALLIS (!!)

    Gyorgy Nagy is one of the key people at MET. MET is partially owned by one of the founders of Wallis, Gyorgy Nagy. Wallis people, especially founders are personal friends of Gordon Bajnai, who was the CEO of Wallis for five (5) years. Gyorgy Nagy too, is a personal friend of Gordon Bajnai, they’ve known each other for more than 15 years.

    Gordon Bajnai was at the Bilderberg meeting in 2014. The Bilderberg meetings take place in complete secrecy with shadowy figures present such as the CIA director, MI6 chief and others. From this we can conclude that MET is secret project of someone from Bilderberg and is controlled by them through Bajnai.

    Now of course I wrote all that to make a point. It takes a few minutes to write up garbage conspiracy theories. And usually they all have weaknesses.

    Now the particular conspiracy theory pushed by Ferenc Gyurcsany and his party, his people is not much better than anyone else could write. It has many weaknesses

    For example they say it is suspicious if a family travels by train. Well clearly these people never met children who like trains and prefer traveling in them. But then again if someone never had children or would never consider doing something they ask then it is understandable. That could be one explanation. Another can be if someone in the family dislikes flying, it is quite common to be afraid of planes crashing after 9/11. Another explanation can be if a politician is in a difficult situation at home and wants to show that he is frugal, a man of the people, willing to travel cheaply, like the common people do. And he hopes for some votes / additional sympathy from this. The list could go on.

    This is the problem with conspiracy theorists they take events that can have a hundred different explanations and accept only their own.

    Why did Obama write a secret letter to the leader of Iran? Does he plan something sinister behind the American people’s back? http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/mitt-romney-barack-obama-iran-letter-112702.html

    You can create a conspiracy theory from pretty much anything.

  3. What we really should be talking about is the election in Ozd, a large city in Hungary:

    The candidate of MSZP and DK (combined candidate of two leftist opposition parties)

    received 3.4% of the total votes.

    3.4% is a historic defeat that is almost unimaginable. How can we ever get back from this? If the liberalism and leftism can get this hugely rejected in a major Hungarian city, what hope is there to get anywhere in the countryside? Budapest is one thing but at this rate not a single left-wing voter will remain in major places in Hungary.

    Just spewing hatred at Fidesz will not help at all in this. At most what can be achieved with the current strategy is the strengthening of Jobbik

  4. Piri, no, “at most” paying attention to the corruption and mismanagement of the current government can encourage any honest persons within that government to become active against corruption and mismanagement. Not paying attention to corruption and mismanagement, by whatever individual or party, is simply giving up and declaring Hungary to not be a land of fairness and the rule of law. Not paying attention is to hate Hungary and watch its national wealth — which belongs to all citizens of Hungary — get plundered or wasted away. Do you really hate the Hungarian people so much that you would accept that?

  5. piri,

    Your argument is to endure the corrupt dictator because it’s still better (one assumes your message is intended for the US and other foreign powers) than what would come after that.

    The problem for you is that people are not that logical and rational.

    They are absolutely livid if they hear the name Orban and no amount of Kubatov lists and illegal busing of voters could deliver the results in Ozd. This must be frightening, the old tricks don’t work any more so well.

    Orban himself said that he will slap on the face of jobbikniks and they will disappear. I have yet to see those slaps.

    I don’t even want to imagine what would happen to Orban if he found himself inside of an angry crowd without his bodyguards. He is a hated man like all dictators — sure he has a strong group of backers too, but he is actively hated by most people.

    I’m one of those who says he has to go, come what may after him. There are principles too, and he became a power-mad corrupt dictator who’s selling Hungary to Russia.

  6. CS (albeit its London branch I think) also worked for the government when Orban purchased EON’s gas storage business for a fortune.

    I can imagine that CS is working in some capacity for Orban in connection with Paks, South Stream or the other energy business on which Orban’s friends are busy. There is no defensible argument to meet with Pictet, which is a pure wealth-manager.

    The other reason Orban could have decided to take the train is because he could have met and negotiated with people on the train undetected, given that the tickets are not issued for a specific name. Russians particularly like this method, they probably traveled to Zurich by train in the first place.

    There’s no rational reason why Orban had to take this long ride, which is exhausting for anybody let alone a busy prime minister. Orban could have spent quality time with his family at any number of estates he and his wife and their families have all over Hungary.

  7. Some of the search results about “Benjamin Lakatos” or “MET” have already been removed by Google at the demand of the involved.

  8. Vida’s flighty vacation:

    For English speakers:

    “I vacation in the summer, I take flight in the fall.”

    [The Hungarian [<Yiddish< Hebrew] slang for fleeing is similar to the Hungarian word for winter.

  9. This is essentially OT but I have often taken the Munich Budapest train (second class) because it really is extremely pleasant and relaxing. So Orbán may have been up to no good but I can’t fault his choice of train journeys.

  10. @Piri. I interpret this Ózd election somewhat differently.If one compares the results of the first round with the second one sees an enormous difference in numbers. The Jobbik candidate won by 64 votes in October while this time he got almost 2/3. People interviewed by Népszabadság said that they were so outraged that the former Fidesz mayor insisted on a repeat of the whole procedure that even those who voted for him in the first round this time cast their votes for his opponent. People couldn’t stomach that Fidesz candidates simply could not accept defeat.

  11. Julie Connie Mack’s work for the Government of Hungary isn’t news it is part of the contract with the lobbying firm Liberty Partners. It’s a waste of money. While a good lobbying firm especially one with former Republican congressmen carrying the water can do wonders on obscure issues and regulatory issues, it can’t do much about Hungary’s increasing pro-Russian orientation.

    I would suspect Republicans on the House and Senate intelligence committees have their ears burning with reports about Russian operations in Hungary and links to Jobbik and Fidesz political operatives. The House Intelligence Committee is headed by Mike Rogers and he has been a strong advocate for an increased US military presence in Central Europe to confront Russia. But more importantly Rogers was a FBI Special Agent investigating public corruption here in Chicago as a member of the Chicago Bureau’s organized crime unit (1988-94). The political corruption here in Chicago is legendary and so many politicians have gone to jail there are now actually lawyers specializing in working out deals with the Feds for sentence reductions.

    Rogers totally understands the type of corruption that exists within Fidesz and how that corruption can interface with Russian influence. I don’t think Connie Mack can do much about that.

  12. “Hungary’s eroding competitiveness has been
    reflected in its declining share in world exports
    and the widening gap in EU export market
    share between Hungary and its peers. Price
    indicators do not point to competitiveness
    issues, suggesting that non-price factors may explain such trends, including

    deterioration in the business climate,
    high regulatory burden, and
    weaknesses in the institutional framework,
    (e.g., frequent and unpredictable changes in the policy framework and the tax system).

    Indeed,
    Hungary’s ranking in the global competitiveness index has fallen since 2010–11, with the weak
    institutional framework being a drag on overall competitiveness”

    IMF report, June 2014,
    p.5.

    Click to access cr14156.pdf

  13. @Stevan:

    Moody’s is still sceptical – I couldn’t find the original source (probably behind a paywall …) but here is what BBJ writes:

    “Moody’s analysts said they expect the country’s real GDP growth to be around 3% in 2014 before slowing down to 2.4% in 2015. For the following years, the agency expects growth to be fixed around 2.2%, which is still low as compared to the peers in the region.”
    http://www.bbj.hu/economy/moodys-upgrades-hungarys-rating-to-stable_87836

    Ba1 is not really a “good” rating:
    http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/ba1-bb.asp
    DEFINITION of ‘Ba1/BB+’
    This is generally one of the lowest investment grade ratings that a ratings agency assigns to a security or insurance carrier. This rating signifies a low to moderate level of risk for investors or policyholders. Entities that are assigned this rating generally possess adequate reserves and are reasonably stable but not as solid as higher-rated securities or carriers.

  14. I agree this is a poor conspiracy theory but actually it’s quite a lot more expensive to travel by train rather than plane these days,

  15. Let this be clear:

    Fidesz’ message to America is “Ózd”, as GFG, the crazily Orban loyal pundit said today.

    Interpretation:

    If the US hurts (actually fails to actively help) Fidesz, then the result – as was the case in Ózd – will be Jobbik, which is an organization on par with ISIS and Al-Qeda according to many US intelligence people.

    So the US has no choice but to keep Orban and its thoroughly corrupt government in place, lest Hungary be a new Egypt.

    The US was BFF with Mr. Mubarak for decades and if that was OK, then why does the US dislikes Mr. Orban so much?

  16. @Umberto. As I explained earlier, the Ózd story is not that simple.See an article by Ákos Balogh (Mandiner) about people who earlier voted for DK-MSZP but they wanted to get rid of the Fidesz candidate so badly that they rather voted for Jobbik this time. It is a protest vote against Fidesz rather than overwhelming support for Jobbik. Yes, Jobbik is strong in Ózd but not that strong (2/3).

  17. @Umberto

    “The US was BFF with Mr. Mubarak for decades and if that was OK, then why does the US dislikes Mr. Orban so much?”

    It has to do with the context of the relationship – Hungary is a NATO and EU member.

    One example of how this context influences the relationship – As part of NATO the US is bond by a Mutual Defense Treaty to defend Hungary if it is attacked. This creates certain expectations among these two members of the alliance. The US is, and was, in no such relationship with Egypt.

    Other relationships (Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) create expectations regarding issues related to democratic norms, security, and bilateral business relationships.

    When the US perceives that a country in such relationships is courting a NATO adversary, flaunting democratic norms, and is involved in extortion of US firms, you can expect that that the US will “dislike” their leader.

  18. I have the pleasure to report that at 5 o’clock today Klubradio hourly news quoted verbatim this article at length, with attribution to Eva, but without the mention of the Hungarian Spectrum.

  19. Umberto I would like to see a reference indicating that any United States intelligence official or even former official who would equate the Jobbik Party to the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria. In fact currently US intelligence analysts do not even equate Russian aggression to what the Islamic State is doing in Iraq and Syria. While Putin is in my opinion a dangerous man, he it totally different than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the now critically wounded leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

    As for Hungary becoming the new Egypt, there are some no doubt in the United States intelligence realm many that supported the military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. Ahmed Maher from the April 6 Youth Movement that advocated freedom and democracy in Egypt and an end to the regime of Hosni Mubarak wrote from prison in Egypt an opinion piece that appeared in the Washington Post last February indicating what he believed was the United States support for the military coup. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-us-is-supporting-oppression-in-egypt/2014/02/07/10a4c8fc-8f66-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html The United States ties to the Egyptian military are very deep, so Maher’s position may be correct.

    Trying to make any analogy between Hungary and the middle east in terms of US foreign policy seems absurd.

  20. @Ákos
    “CS (albeit its London branch I think) also worked for the government when Orban purchased EON’s gas storage business for a fortune.”

    Do you happen to know what they specifically did for the government then?

  21. (1) In Switzerland, the Canton of Zug has the very lowest taxes on holding companies.
    (2) The place to research is the Swiss official Commercial Gazette (German abbreviation SHAB). But it is easier to navigate on the site of moneyhouse.
    (3) Why Orbán would go by train remains a mystery to me. He could go by car and wouldn’t be checked. Because of diplomatic immunity he could also go by plane and wouldn’t be checked. But perhaps some of the other speculations are true.

    Nothing has happened yet really, but some of you may remember that not so late in 2010, I wrote that as Orbán can no longer be unseated by democratic procedures he will one day be ousted from where he took his politics in opposition: by the people in the street! 🙂

  22. I suspect that Fidesz would love to know what was leaked to the Americans and to figure out who sang on them – that is why they seem to be so indignant.

    In the meantime they must be shredding the evidence from the NAV servers.

    When they are finished with this, Mr Polt will finally instruct the prosecutors to start an investigation. They will yield nothing incriminating on the top Fidesz echelon.

  23. Well, if the person in question wouldn’t be one of the most shameless liar, one may consider the otherwise quite unlikely choice to travel unnecessarily 16+ hours by train, second class, perfectly innocent.

    However, the person is Orbán, so the chance is exactly nil.

  24. Tappanach wrote “they must be shredding the evidence from the NAV servers.” While I have no doubt that members of the Hungarian government are jumping all over one another to determine what was leaked and by whom and are surely unashamed of shredding anything, familiarity with the relevant US laws will amply indicate that no leaked information at all was required to come to the finding that certain Hungarian officials appeared to be involved in corrupted practices. All that was necessary was a convincing complaint by a US firm for which the supporting evidence need not be legally submittable to a US court; the response by the US in such cases is clear and obligatory: the US can ban entry to foreign nationals without due process and shall if they are believed to be engaged in corrupt practices damaging to US interests, and it is not the responsibility of the US to provide evidence for Hungarian prosecutors. It is the (reasonable) assumption of the US that a state which claims to be ruled by law will have an interest in investigating corruption of its own and best be able to secure appropriate and admissible evidence.

    In any case, from the Hungarian side, there is likely to be no useful evidence in paper or electronic forms that might be shredded or deleted. It is simply in the nature of bribery that oral communication suffices and payments can be made in cash, offshore, or in-kind, and, in the case of tax evasion, submitting flawed figures from the source suffice. Only a rigorous investigation of the private accounts of the figures in question — and, in any state governed by the rule of law, any official with the means of soliciting bribes or favors should be subject to on-going, unannounced and rigorous controlling and auditing.

  25. Amazing, really, that members of the Hungarian administration find acceptable even to pretend that they have no idea that one have to have an appointment to be received, let alone expected in the offices of another country!
    Not to mention the morons with the camera and the mike – do they really thought that anyone will give substantial answer regarding the topic publicly, in the middle of the square?

    Have anyone heard how Rogán happened to comment on the event?
    A short summary from ATV:

    http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20141110-a-jobbik-megtalalta-az-mszp-rasszista-szavazoit-percrol-percre-a-parlamentbol

    Rogán Antal: “Goodfriend úr szavahihetetlen”

    Bár Rogán szerint a családokat a devizahitelek érdeklik és nem Vida Ildikó, most mégis ez utóbbival kezdi.
    Ma délelőtt Vida Ildikó elment az amerikai nagykövetségre – emlékeztetett Rogán Antal – , aki szerint “Goodfriend úr a szavahihetetlenség problémájába keveredett”, mivel az Egyesült Államok nagykövetsége nem mondott konkrétumokat sem a magyar kormánynak, sem a közvéleménynek, sem a parlamenti bizottságnak, és most az érintettnek sem a kitiltási ügy okairól – mondja a Fidesz frakcióvezetője.
    “Magyarország nem Guantanamo” – teszi hozzá Rogán Antal, aki szerint ideje, hogy az Egyesült Államoknak nagykövetet kellene küldenie Magyarországra.

    Roughly translated:

    Antal Rogán: “Mr.Godfriend has no credebility”

    Although the families interested of foreign currency loans, and not of Ildikó Vida, he starts with the latter, though.
    Today in the morning she went to the American Embassy – reminded Rogán, – who says, “Mr.Goodfriend has credibility issues” since the Embassy of the United States didn’t came forward with facts, not to the Hungarian Government, neither the public nor the Parliamentary Commission, and now the person concerned of the reasons for the ban case – says the leader of Fidesz caucus.
    “Hungary is not Guantanamo”- adds Antal Rogán, who says that it’s time that the United States should send an Ambassador to Hungary.

    Indeed.
    It’s about time that Hungary tells to the US what to do and who to send to Hungary!
    Or else!
    Whow!

  26. Tappanch, Istvan, Eva Balogh and others:

    Would you vote for Jobbik if you were a citizen of Ozd in the present election?

    Some of the explanations provided suggest that some of you believe that many MSZP and DK voters voted for the Jobbik candidate. And this resulted in the 3% result for MSZP-DK. However that suggestion (a die-hard Gyurcsanyist or MSZPnik voting for Jobbik) seems somewhat far-fetched. But answering this question could take us a little closer.

    Would you personally vote for Jobbik in the Ozd scenario and legitimize everything that party stands for? Jobbik is now talking about a “close to two-thirds” victory in Ozd and their plans to take power in 2018.

  27. @beacon

    This is an interesting question. Jobbik is a Fidesz offshoot from 2003. Jobbik is a fake channel that collects dissatisfied voters, since MSzP imploded. Vona and Orban cooperate their policies behind the curtain.

    The ideal form of government to both Fidesz and Jobbik is a right-wing dictatorship, covertly or openly.

    But in a small town, if other candidates have zero chance to win, I would vote for the Jobbik mayoral candidate – just to topple a corrupt fidesznik, yes.

    Now, flame me.

  28. @beacon: I would not for Jobbik. Either Jobbik or Fidesz is the right alternative for Hungary. The sad part is that I am not sure what is the good or best alternative. It feels like Hungary should start from scratch.

  29. Minusio:

    I’m no diplomatic expert, but as far as I know only the so called diplomatic pouch/bag is immune from inspections. Orban would ‘only’ travel with a diplomatic passport but would not be a diplomat assigned to a certain diplomatic mission under the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations (although I haven’t check this).

    As a result I can well imagine that Orban and his people didn’t want to risk an x-ray (the result of which is probably stored on computer) even that privilege may sometimes be afforded to heads of state by custom or by certain laws. I would also wager that the he was probably meeting with people on the train, who of course got off before he (probably in Austria).

  30. I would not vote for the Jobbik if I was a citizen of Ózd even though the October 12 local council election appears to have been won by Jobbik’s mayoral candidate, David Janiczak and there is reason to believe the former Mayor former mayor Pal Furjes may have created the discrepancy. I don’t vote for Fascists under any condition. But it does show how far Fidesz will go to maintain total control.

  31. Istvan:

    http://www.counterextremism.com/about

    Please look at the “The Threat” section, the list of organizations representing threat. Given the law of large numbers some of the leaders of this organizations I would also assume may have backgrounds in military or intelligence fields.

  32. @Beacon, take a look at the figures. Zoltán Veres (DK-MSZP) received 2,238 votes on October 12. On November 9 only 520!!!

    5,000 more people voted in November than in October and as a result Dávid Janiczák (Jobbik) received 10,299 votes in November instead of 4,214 votes in October. The Fidesz candidate in October 4,148 votes and in October 5,076, half of which apparently came the Romas who are fearful of Jobbik.

  33. tappanch thanks for the video link. What HirtTV did to Mr. Goodfriend is called in the United States ambush journalism. But could you imagine the head of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States participating in something like this set up? Moreover I honestly can’t believe any major TV network in the USA would participate in using the head of the IRS to set up an official of a foreign embassy. Even the Fox network which generally hates all things Russian associated with the Putin government wouldn’t do it even to the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

    But what I want to know is if Ildikó Vida had a nice chat with Mr. Goodfriend? Did she really want him to turn over all the evidence on her corruption, somehow I doubt it.
    But Goodfriend is a quick study and figured out what was going on quickly, hence got in the point that Ms. Vida had no appointment and he was not avoiding meeting with her.

  34. Big “national” companies are cronies of the ruling part(ies). We probably all know that. What is new that they are, at least in part, serve as “diary cows” for the government. It extracts money from Szerencsejatek Zrt., MVM, etc. to finance issues that cannot be (fully) covered from the budget. What surprises me that an influential group of companies like Wal-list can obscure its long shadow for such a long time. Remember? They gave the nation a socialist PM (I like Bajnai but he is a puppet in this regard.) Please try to find a decent picture of any of the owners or top managers of the Company. What about a CV? You would probably fail. They are not strangers in Moscow (i.e. construction, etc.). By the way, they still believed to have strong interests in the Hungarian media through Wing Zrt., among others.
    Delta Capricorni, aka Daneb Algedi (Al-Geddi in Arabic?) is an even more mysterious participant. I have never heard of it. Anybody?

    Comparing Egypt with Hungary is waste of time. Mol had interest in Syria too. Than what?

    Disregard diplomatic immunity and whether the trip is private or official PM’s are normally not checked. Still, why risking when anybody else could deliver stuff. What about a diplomatic pouch? There is no control though within the Schengen area so your speculation in this regard goes way too far. The long train voyage is a good venue though for a long private discussion.

  35. Re: Vida and corruption…. Fidesz decided to handle this the most idiotic way. Why go for this boorish confrontation when they could have gotten out of this gracefully? Let Vida take a long vacation (temporarily leave), and the government orders an investigation. This of course takes a while… finally, the Hungarian public forgets about the issue, and the investigation comes up with nothing, claiming that the Americans probably made a mistake when implicated Vida in corruption… end of story.

    The whole deal is really weird, especially that it was Napi Gazdasag, a Fidesz friendly paper that leaked the info, not the Americans. So it seems that Fidesz is generating this whole circus on purpose. But to what end?

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