Viktor Orbán’s role in anti-givernment riots

Football hooligans as Fidesz’s police force

This morning I decided to write more about the “interesting coincidence” that Ferenc Szabó (Feri the Blond), who was convicted for murder and spent ten years in jail, is employed by the Ferencvárosi Futball Club. This fan club is headed by Gábor Kubatov, Fidesz party manager, who is now in the process of organizing a party militia “to defend” Fidesz from future aggressors.  Feri the Blond and some of his ilk already showed up at the Fidesz party headquarters ready to remove the “aggressors,” if necessary by force.

Ready for a fight: Ferencváros Újpest, March 10, 2013 / fradimob.hu

Ready for a fight: Ferencváros – Újpest, March 10, 2013 / fradimob.hu

As I was gathering material for today’s post I discovered that “the game of the year”–as a Fradi fan called it–was scheduled to take place this afternoon. It is a “derby” between Ferencváros and Újpest, whose fans are deadly enemies of one another. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, any match between teams from the same city is called a derby. As I just learned, Ferencváros won, but even before the game started the fans of Újpest attacked the police with stones and broken glass. In turn, a couple of people were arrested for hidden weapons and firecrackers.

This, however, is most likely not the end of the story. Because, as one of the Fradi hooligans told a reporter, “they hunt the enemy.” They plot their route to the stadium in order to avoid the police and to attack the fans of the other team. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they win or lose; the important thing is to have a fight. There is so much aggression in them that they literally want to kill members of the other side. One of the “leaders” of the fans was quite frank: “We are different from others because of the immeasurable hatred in our blood.” The interviews on the following video provide a glimpse into the mindset of these people:

But let’s get back to Ferenc Szabó (Feri the Blond) and Gábor Kubatov. What is the connection over and above the fact that Kubatov is now the boss at Ferencváros and Szabó, the coordinator between the Fradi Security and Kubatov? After all, appointing a murderer to be part of the Fradi security forces would have been far too daring. According to rumors Szabó is getting a better than average salary of 400,000 a month. In June 2012 an article appeared on fradimob.hu in which the author called Szabó “Kubatov’s favorite murderer.” Szabó and Kubatov were soul mates in the notorious Section #2 of the Ferencváros Stadium where the worst hooligans gathered and from where they usually attacked the players, the coaches, or the police. Another member of the group was György Szilágyi (Sziszi), who today is a Jobbik member of parliament. It was this Section #2 that Viktor Orbán decided to visit only a few days before the same hooligans attacked the public television station on September 18, 2006.

These guys were no ordinary football hooligans but members of the underworld: extortionists, blackmailers, drug dealers, and yes, murderers. Not all of them were so unfortunate as to be caught like Feri the Blond. Some of the murders took place in broad daylight in downtown Budapest and the perpetrators were never discovered. This is the world Feri the Blond is coming from.

In August 2012 an article appeared in HVG about another member of Section # 2 who ended up in the Fidesz government. He is Bánk Levente Boros, a “political scientist” at Miskolc University, who in his spare time was deputy chairman of the Ferencváros Szurkolók Szövetsége (Association of Ferencváros Fans). His advice doesn’t come cheap: 400,000 forints a month.

Members of these football fan clubs are getting more and more involved in politics. In Debrecen the members of the fan club of the local DVSC (Debreceni Vasutas Sport Club), better known as Loki, an abbreviated version of the word “locomotive,” entered the building of the university and insulted and intimidated the students. In Budapest at the Faculty of Arts of ELTE  the same thing happened. Skinheads decided to “defend” the government.  And now Kubatov is calling on his “favorite murderer” to police Fidesz and government buildings.

Several articles appeared on the subject from which I learned a lot. Perhaps the most informative on the connection between Fidesz and the underworld was the blog of “Csehszlovák Kém.” He is the blogger who first reported on the Israeli-Hungarian “friendly match” that eventually resulted in severe punishment of the Hungarian Football Association for not being able or not being willing to keep order among the fans in Hungarian stadiums. For the details see my post, “A friendly football match: Hungary-Israel 1-1.” Another article that appeared on the subject is by László Bartus in the Amerikai-Magyar Népszava (March 10, 2013).

Finally, Vera Lánczos in a piece on Galamus entitled “Báránybőrbe bújtatott farkasok” (Wolves in sheep’s clothing) approaches her subject from more of a political angle. She is convinced that Fidesz ordered the police to withdraw in order to avoid a situation similar to the events of 2006 when the police had to handle the unruly demonstrators. They wanted to show the world that “their” police are not brutal as allegedly the socialist police were. So, instead, they got the football hooligans to do the dirty work. But they had to pretend that these people were “volunteers” worried about the fate of their party. According to Lánczos, the original plan of the protesters was to stay in the courtyard overnight, but when the murderer and his friends arrived they decided to leave on their own because “they feared for their safety.” As it was, the employees of the party headquarters not only insulted the students but used force against them. See the description of an eyewitness quoted by Some1 in her comment of August 22, at 12:02.

Kubatov’s early connection with the hardcore Fradi fans lends credence to the possible connection between Fidesz and the Fradi football hooligans in the storming of the television station in September 2006. Perhaps one day we will know exactly what happened, but I must say that in light of these latest developments one has the feeling that Fidesz involvement is more than likely.

September 17-19, 2006: Viktor Orbán’s reactions to the street violence

Time flies. More than a month has gone by since December 29 when I stopped writing about József Debreczeni’s bestseller on the events of September-October 2006 although I promised to continue the story. But, as usual, daily politics intervened and I had to turn to current events.

Back in December, most readers of Spectrum from Hungary were unaware of Debreczeni’s retelling of the story of the siege of the Hungarian Public Television Station (MTV). At the time I also saw no book reviews in the Hungarian media. Since then a few did appear and most of them were critical of Debreczeni’s approach. They claim that the author began writing his book with a preconceived idea: Viktor Orbán got hold of the speech Ferenc Gyurcsány delivered to the MSZP parliamentary delegation shortly after the socialists won the elections and at the opportune moment decided to release a couple of choice sentences from it. Meanwhile, in the intervening month, he made sure that the time was ripe for an emphatic response.

Yes, I agree that there is no hard proof of Orbán’s complicity and therefore we have to rely on conjecture, but I don’t think that Debreczeni adjusted the facts to suit his hypothesis.

In any case, let’s continue the story, this time examining how Orbán reacted to the events. On September 17, when the whole country could hear Ferenc Gyurcsány’s voice on the radio saying that “we lied morning, day, and night,” Viktor Orbán was in Brussels. Whether it was planned this way is hard to tell. In any case, he interrupted his trip and returned to Hungary on the evening of September 18.

According to Debreczeni, a reporter for Index asked four high-ranking Fidesz politicians about Orbán’s whereabouts but no one knew exactly what Orbán was doing while the television station was burning. He was quiet until the afternoon of September 19 when he gave a press conference. Here he reiterated that Gyurcsány and his whole cabinet should resign and in their place a “cabinet of experts” should be appointed. Naturally he distanced himself from violence in general, but when he was asked about the siege of the television station he announced that “what happened was the manifestation of righteous indignation, but it was not the cars, not the policemen, not the firefighters, and not the building of the television station that was responsible for the austerity program of Gyurcsány.” So, says Debreczeni, “the real problem was not with violence per se but that this violence was directed at the wrong objects.”

ViolenceAn assignment for "Daily Dawn" /Flickr

Violence
An assignment for “Daily Dawn” /Flickr

That same evening Orbán was the guest of MTV’s very popular program Az este. To the question of whether he feels any responsibility that the demonstration fueled by the party ended in violence Orbán answered in the negative. Only Ferenc Gyurcsány, he said, is responsible for what happened: “no one could have thought that the people will applaud the acknowledged lies and forged data.” He then added two sentences that are truly unacceptable from a democratic politician and a responsible leader of the largest opposition party in the country. He urged people “not to retire to their houses but to defend their interests on the streets…. They can always count on Fidesz because we will defend them from every kind of violence.” A rather odd interpretation of the events of the previous day.

Debreczeni, the former MDF member who was a sympathizer of Ibolya Dávid, contrasts Orbán’s attitude to that of Ibolya Dávid, who considered the statement “one of the most irresponsible pronouncements of Viktor Orbán. Every democrat who respects the rule of law and the constitution would have expected the chairman of Fidesz to condemn the criminal acts and the vandalism that took place. We expected Viktor Orbán to recall his sympathizers from the streets and postpone the planned demonstrations on Saturday…. In this situation Viktor Orbán’s behavior is irresponsible and incomprehensible when he urges  people not to retire to their houses but to remain on the streets. Viktor Orbán is endangering not only the future of the Hungarian right but also the existence of Hungarian democracy.”

In the following days he only added oil to the fire. In an interview with Hír TV  he repeated that he “supports all indignation on the part of the population” because after all no one spoke to the Hungarian people the way Gyurcsány did in Balatonőszöd. Orbán time and again called the Gyurcsány government “illegitimate” and thus practically encouraged people to topple it one way or the other. And, indeed, “the peaceful demonstrators” remained on Kossuth Square until October 23. Speakers came from extreme right-wing organizations and their speeches were full of hate and anti-Semitic remarks. There was open agitation against the constitutional order for weeks on end. Almost every night there were demonstrations not just in Budapest but also in other middle-sized cities organized by Fidesz activists and/or members of civil circles. The crowd knew that “it had the support of the political hinterland.”

So, even if  we cannot say for certain that Fidesz was pulling the strings during the actual siege of the television station, there is no question that Viktor Orbán and Fidesz supported the violent actions and encouraged people to join forces with the rabble on the streets. Despicable behavior and unacceptable in  the family of democratic nations. Yet four years later he once again became prime minister with a mandate that gave him unlimited power. No question, that power is in the wrong hands.