Bela Kovacs, an MEP for the radical nationalist Jobbik party, dismissed accusations that he had spied against the European Union, as reported by Thursday’s Magyar Nemzet.
“I have never been a member of the Hungarian secret services or that of a foreign country, I never collaborated and I have never been contacted,” Kovacs told a press conference in Budapest on Thursday.
Kovacs, who is third on Jobbik’s list of candidates for the EP elections, said he rejects Magyar Nemzet’s accusations and will urge parliament’s national security committee to hear him at a public hearing. The committee is expected to put the issue on its agenda next Monday, a Socialist official told the press.
Hungary’s chief prosecutor Peter Polt told Magyar Nemzet that he had asked the president of the European Parliament to suspend Kovacs’s immunity rights because he had been suspected of spying.
Geza Fazekas, a spokesman for the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, told the paper, citing anonymous sources, that the Constitution Protection Office had filed a case against Kovacs for allegedly spying against EU institutions. Kovacs is accused of regularly conspiring with Russian diplomats and travelling to Moscow on a monthly basis. Kovacs is married to a Russian-Austrian dual citizen, who had allegedly been working for the KGB earlier, the paper said.
The Central Investigating Chief Prosecutor’s Office has started an investigation in the case for crimes punishable with a 2-8 year prison sentence, Fazekas said, adding that the case is classified and further information cannot be disclosed.
Asked about the chief prosecutor’s initiative for suspending Kovacs’s immunity, Krisztina Morvai, the leader of radical nationalist Jobbik’s MEP candidate list, said at a press conference they saw no reason for removing Kovacs from that list. She said the issue would not influence the outcome of the May 25 EP election, it serves instead to “open people’s eyes,” Morvai said.
The opposition LMP party calls for convening parliament’s national security committee, the party’s co-chair said in a statement. The party would not state a position in an ongoing issue until a probe is concluded, but it needs to be clarified whether a potential candidate for an MEP mandate would represent Hungary’s or Russia’s interests, Bernadett Szel said.
The Democratic Coalition (DK) also called for convening parliament’s national security committee to clarify the issue, Agnes Vadai, the party’s lawmaker, said.
Benedek Javor, the co-chair of the E-PM alliance, said in his blog entry that they had always had the suspicion that Kovacs, who is third on Jobbik list of MEP candidates, had adamantly represented Russian rather than Hungarian interests in Brussels. He said Kovacs is regarded in EU circles “simply as a lobbyist for Russia and Gazprom, someone whose career clearly demonstrates a commitment towards Russia,” Javor said.
Roland Gur of the Socialist Party said that it was now clear that Jobbik and Fidesz were competing which one could serve Russian interests better. It is clear that none of them can stand up for national interests, he added.
The office of Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, received Polt’s letter on Thursday, Schulz’s spokesman told MTI.
The EP could deal with the issue only after the European elections during the new parliamentary cycle and only if Kovacs is re-elected as an MEP, said Armin Machmer.