On December 29, 2014 Antal Rogán, whip of the Fidesz caucus, announced a new program called the “National Defense Action Plan” which, he claimed, was needed because the country is under siege. Details were not revealed at the time, but I suspected that it was intended to take the wind out of anti-government sails. “Action plan”–it sounds so manly, Ildikó Lendvai sarcastically remarked in an opinion piece that appeared in Népszava on January 3. She found the whole thing ridiculous until she read an interview with Gergely Gulyás, chairman of a newly created parliamentary committee on legislative activities. In this interview Gulyás said that it was time to make the law on free assembly more restrictive. “I immediately stopped laughing,” Lendvai wrote. This new action plan–because this is not the first in the history of the Orbán regime–should really be called the “Government Defense Action Plan.” The goal is to put an end to anti-government demonstrations.
A sharp-eyed reader of Népszava also became suspicious even before the appearance of the Gulyás interview. What does the government have in mind when it talks about a “National Defense Action Plan”? “Is this perhaps the beginning of limiting our basic human and political rights?” He found the whole idea “frightening.”
Within a week after the Gulyás interview, Viktor Orbán must have realized that he went too far. With all the international attention on the demonstrations and anti-government sentiment, tightening the law on free assembly might be seen as overreach. László L. Simon, undersecretary in the prime minister’s office who lately has been close to Orbán, was given the task of discrediting Gulyás. On January 7 he announced that “the government is not contemplating any changes in the law on assembly.” Gulyás simply expressed his own private opinion. Oh, sure!
Although Viktor Orbán abandoned the idea of changing the law, he is still bent on “dealing” with the anti-government forces. The Fidesz brain trust came up with another idea–putting pressure on the organizers of the demonstrations. Last Friday Rogán was the guest of HírTV’s P8 where he wondered “who is financing these more and more expensive demonstrations and for what reason?” And, he continued, “if someone for political reasons or because of economic interest finances such events, he should reveal his identity in order for us to see who is behind these demonstrations.” In his opinion, the organizers are trying to convince the public that the demonstrations are the handiwork of civic groups alone, “but they are not.” Unmasking the forces behind these demonstrations “might be part of the ‘National Defense Action Plan.'”
Since the Orbán government and its supporting media equate the government with the nation and the country, Magyar Nemzet argued that any support of the demonstrations by the democratic opposition parties is more than suspect. If opposition parties stand behind the demonstrations–as they don’t at the moment–it is a mortal sin, bordering on treason, from their point of view.
The truth is that the organizers ask for donations from the participants on the spot, and each time they manage to collect a few million forints. They have also made their financial records public on Facebook.
Antal Rogán made only veiled references to taking the case of financing the demonstrations to court if necessary, but a young teacher of Hungarian literature, István Tényi, decided to act. He filed a complaint against the organizers of the recent mass demonstrations on suspicion of fraud.
Tényi has a lot of experience in filing charges. He was the one who filed a complaint against Ökotárs, also for fraud, in connection with the group’s handling of the Norwegian Civic Funds. While he was at it, he filed a complaint against HVG because of its cover story showing Fidesz politicians gathering around the NAV chairwoman, Ildikó Vida, as if around Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus.
What I found out about Tényi isn’t pretty. He was fired from his first job because he sent threatening e-mails to his students indicating that the school will meet the same fate as Baghdad under the massive American bombing. Currently he teaches at the Károly Than Ökoiskola. A writer of a micro-blog found a “disgusting” item–his adjective–on Tényi’s Facebook page. One of his students sent him an anti-Semitic caricature of Gyurcsány. The former prime minister was depicted with the body of a cockroach and a Star of David on his face. The message was “the Israeli Gyurcsány should be crushed” just like a cockroach. Tényi must have enjoyed the caricature because he was one of the five who “liked” it. The other four, I suspect, are his students.
Otherwise, Tényi is 32 years old and graduated from ELTE’s Faculty of Arts in 2006. He is a member of the presidium of Fidelitas in Terézváros (District VI) where he functions as a coordinator. His favorite film is Star Wars IV-VI and his “ideal” is Sándor Petőfi. His favorite drink is mineral water. Most important, he enjoys filing charges against people who don’t agree with his party and the Orbán government. This man, if one can believe the messages on his Facebook page, is quite popular among his students. Imagine the education they are getting from this man. And unfortunately, there are far too many István Tényis among the followers of Viktor Orbán.
Off the sad topic. Given that Eva was writing on access to University education in Hungary just the other day, so it was interesting that Népszabadság had a reasonably good article on the US two year college system today written by Anita Komuves http://nol.hu/kulfold/a-szegenyek-foiskolajat-tenne-ingyenesse-obama-1509735
She notes how the high cost of a college education is forcing even children of the US middle class to look at the 2 year college system. I am always interested in how Hungarian reporters working here depict the problems of the USA. Her article was a very reasonable summary of the situation here.
Orban and the Odor of Olives
“Hungary Offers Olive Branch to U.S.” Wall Street Journal, 13 January 2015
That’s rather rich:
1. The US governement denies entry to high Hungarian officials, including the head of the Hungarian IRS, a personal friend of the prime minister, Viktor Orban, for corruption (e.g., what amounts to demanding bribes from US companies for doing business in Hungary).
2. Orban (who calls all the shots in what he calls his “illiberal state”), instead of honestly and transparently investigating the corruption charges demands that the US goverrnment do the investigation and provide the evidence, accuses the US of trying to manipulate Hungary for US purposes, and publicly orders the head of the Hungarian IRS to sue the American embassy chargeé d’affaires (the US messenger) for defamation, or be fired from her job.
3. And now Orban extends an “olive branch”: “Let’s let bygones be bygones. Forget these corruption charges. Back to business as usual.”
There is something profoundly rotten going on in Hungary these days. Media control and other shenanigans have so far prevented the electorate from smelling it, for two terms, but by now the stench is becoming overwhelming internationally, and it’s even beginning to get through to the noses of the Hungarian citizenry, who have been demonstarting nonviolently in growing numbers for Orban’s ouster.
Orban, with his US “olive branch” in one hand, has publicly floated threats to amend the laws of public assembly to put an end to this public unrest as part of a “national defence plan” to protect Hungary from the foreign forces fomenting these expressions of dissatisfaction from his unruly citizenry.
I heard this in Hungarian:
Mi a különbség Kádár és Orbán között:
Kádár nyugati bankok dollárjaival húzta a csárdást az emberek lába alá a gulág legvidámabb barakkjában.
Orbán üres nemzeti lózungokkal húzza a csárdást az emberek lába alá a falu legszomorúbb viskójában.
Béla Pintér. Arpad Schilling. Kornél Mundruczó. Béla Tarr. György Pálfi. Trafó. Bakelit. Krétakör. Sín… There’s plenty of Hungarian talent in cinema and the performing arts today. As always, some do engage politics in a more direct way than others, but they all do. And most of them have funding problems.
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) and Some1: Thank you, it is good to know that there are talents. They also have a responsibility to society, to educate, to influence and teach their viewer to know better values in life and better solutions to the problems of society, to be defiant against dictatorship and corrupt authority. I would like to know, which new movies are showing the way out of the Orban regime, how to overcome anti-Semitism, how to integrate the gypsies. Anybody cares enough, anyone feels so strongly about the issues to put his carrier behind these issues?
Take a look at the American film makers and movies, most of which they don’t buy and show in Hungary. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”, To Kill a Mockingbird”, The Defiant Ones, Gentleman’s Agreement, To Sir with Love, A Raisin in the Sun, In the Heat of the Night, Erin Brockovich, Schindler’s List, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Children of a Lesser God, Norma Rae, Absence in Malice, Dr. Stangelove, or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Dances with Wolves, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Stand and Deliver, Brokeback Mountain, Ghandi, or TV series as Bonanza, I dream of Jeannie, The Addams Family, Quincy, All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, etc.
In the 60’s TV shows like I dream of Jeannie seem to most people as just a beautiful witch who meddles of her husband’s work, yet it carried a social message, that women’s place is NOT just the house and the kitchen. The Addams Family was a show, where the wife Morticia dealt only with death things, anything she touched died, the kids were also magicians, the butler was a 2 meter Monster, one family member was just a hand and nothing more. When they moved to the neighborhood, everybody was blown away, how strange these people were and how they lived. But slowly they realized, that below the strangeness, the Addams Family members had a good heart. So they tolerated their strangeness. This is a social message, such as blacks moving in the neighborhood, or gypsies become your neighbors.
Where are TV shows in Hungry today, like Neighbors was? When will Hungarian society and the artists wake up and realize, that they are being moved back to Asia?
@Eva – just fyi what you dubbed Norwegian Civic Fund it’s actually called the “NGO Fund of the EEA/Norway Grants”.
Á propos Charlie Hebdo, Moslems, immigration and all that.
This is a truly brilliant article by one of America’s greatest strategic thinkers:
Well worth reading.
By the way, the author, George Friedman, was born of Jewish parents in Budapest in 1949. The family left Hungary in 1956 and ended up in the States, where Friedman subsequently had a brilliant career as a strategic analyst, spanning the past several decades. And he is still going strong, of course, stronger than ever.
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