May 15th, 2014

Investigation under way into Jobbik MEP for spying against EU

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.

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  • Vidra

    The Fidesz salami-slicing now starts on Jobbik.

    • Dave

      I think that could be right. Seems a bit thin to accuse him of spying because he regularly goes to Moscow and has a Russian wife who used to work for the KGB. None of the Nemzet’s sources said he had passed classified information to the Russians. Without that he’s done nothing wrong.

      • Vidra

        Allegedly ex-KGB wife (but I’m sure Magyar Nemzet can’t name their sources and they published in good faith so they can’t be sued for libel).

        • revanchsimlives

          ‘…they published in good faith so they can’t be sued for libel.’

          You will find you are quite wrong here. Do read the Media Law. It exists in both Hungarian and English versions.

    • revanchsimlives

      What makes you think Fidesz has anything to do with this?

  • MagyarViking

    Kovacs is married to a Russian-Austrian dual citizen, who had allegedly been working for the KGB earlier, the paper said


    Why has this rather open info not being pushed before?
    Kovacs has been in the top of “Jobbik” since many years and of course, as an Hungarian politician, he and “Jobbik” should have been forced to answer this
    Think of how many times Fidesz/”Jobbik” questioned any left politicians patriotism just because they had education in Moscow (like any one prominent person over 20 years in Hungary 1990)

  • revanchsimlives

    MN does not mention that Béla Kovács has been visiting Russia openly for years (where he qualified in Economics, at the same Moscow university that MN’s own foreign-politics editor also took his degree). Nor does MN mention that EU security, allegedly very tight, has long known about these visits but has never seen any spy-threat in him.

    And MN does not mention that Jobbik is fully supporting the categorical rejection by Béla Kovács of these allegations, and of the allegations against his wife. Nor does MN mention Jobbik’s accusation that this is nothing short of a plan implemented, in obedience to US Vice President Joe Biden, to undermine Jobbik, in order that the chances of the MSZP improve enough to keep it a still-present political force in the EU.

    Methinks this will backfire! The action against Béla Kovács will put him in a the position of the man persecuted by the anti-nationalist global power, and this will earn him, and Jobbik candidates generally, many more votes.

    • nimh

      “this is nothing short of a plan implemented, in obedience to US Vice President Joe Biden, to undermine Jobbik, in order that the chances of the MSZP improve enough to keep it a still-present political force in the EU”

      So Magyar Nemzet is working in the interests of not just the US, but the MSzP as well?

      Can’t say I’ve ever had the impression that Magyar Nemzet had any kind feelings towards the ex-communists… Wouldn’t a conspiracy tying MN, Fidesz, Biden and the MSzP all in together be a bit of a hard theory to sell to the people?

      • revanchsimlives

        You know, I don’t think that this theory needs selling. The way this situation is being handled has already sold itself as a set-up, and not a very clever one. An opinion that already seems to have wide currency is that it is downright peculiar that the Constitutional Court should have begun an action against Kovacs. The normal way of going about this sort of thing is for the security services (in this case, the Belgian one, since he is said to have spied on the EU) to track him, catch him out, clap him into irons, and charge him.

        But no: Kovacs is as free as the breeze. If he had something behind his ears, he would have been on the first flight to Moskow, never to be seen again. But nothing of the sort. Instead, he has publicly declared that he waives his immunity from prosecution.

        (Incidentally, the EU grants immunity from prosecution. It is not a right per se.)

        So don’t you, too, smell a mega-conspiracy here? (Kovacs is the leader of the nationalist EU faction. This is quite new, and clearly a threat to the left coalition, which was prominent in the outgoing EU parliament, the members of which remain prominent in the Commission.)

        • nimh

          Jobbik is indeed a threat to the left coalition, I agree with that much … but a conspiracy theory that involves Magyar Nemzet, of all media, eagerly serving the interests of the Socialist Party? With the eager support of Fidesz? MN hates the socialists. That’s a hard sell.

          If you want to portray this as a conspiracy by Fidesz/MN against Jobbik, eh, I could see the appeal of that. But sketching a mega-conspiracy in which Magyar Nemzet wants to give Mesterhazy’s Socialists a leg-up – not so much.

          • revanchsimlives

            ‘If you want to portray this as a conspiracy by Fidesz/MN against Jobbik …’

            Fortunately, it’s not being left to me to do that. If you read Hungarian, have a look at today’s alfahir.hu.

            Also MN mostly opens its articles to commentary. You might like to look at the relevant ones there, too. Not many MN readers have swallowed the MN line.

            ‘but a conspiracy theory that involves Magyar Nemzet, of all media, eagerly serving the interests of the Socialist Party?’

            I don’t think so. I think it is serving the interests of the globalists, to whom nationalism is anathema. (Do you know who owns MN? I have never checked. But I shall attempt to now.)

    • Aloof

      “Béla Kovács has been visiting Russia openly for years (where he qualified in Economics, at the same Moscow university that MN’s own foreign-politics editor also took his degree)”

      I would wholeheartedly agree there is no direct evidence of him being a “spy” but there is ample evidence where his “heartstrings” lie to include his marriage. (Being married to a Russian gal is no easy feat and certainly a stern test of one’s emotional fortitude, I would know (1st wife was Polish and Russian) and I tip my hat to him for that alone).

      Your boy Bela is a graduate of Moscow State Institute of International Relations where the guilt by association “spy” accusations stem from. It’s also where he learned most of his impressive array of languages that he speaks. He’s also a Russian citizen (no crime) that worked for several Russian companies from 1988-2003 and returned to Hungary where he became a failed and bankrupt “Salad Bar” owner. (Curious choice for such an educated guy, but what the hey…)
      In 2005 he “discovered: Jobbik and rose up the ranks because of his Russian connection(s) and finally became their “Russian Lobbyist”, Western radical right wing party sympathizer and confidant (can be easily verified) and the Jobbik Party’s “finance minister” and bag man.
      (Nice feat since he was nearly bankrupt again 2010). It’s OK, he’s living large these days.
      Today he’s a target because of ALL of that and one that Fidesz will keep in their back pocket until needed now that Jobbik has taken over the #2 spot in the government.

      • revanchsimlives

        The trouble is that in ‘ALL of that’ there is exactly nothing incriminating. Still, Kovacs’s position is not enviable, given the massive tide of power that has ranged against him.

        On the other hand, the EU nationalist faction is having its baptism of fire. That will garner a lot of public sympathy. And that faction must have some clout, too. We can anticipate interesting events.

  • MagyarViking

    Not only some Hungarians are looking for Russian spies, the Czechs are doing the same
    http://praguepost.com/the-big-story/39055-russian-spies-target-czech-republic
    “The Russian firm Atomstroyexport is also interested in the completion of the Czech nuclear power plant Temelín.

    “[Russians] assembled a fleet of Czech subcontractors behind the main Russian supplier that was the icebreaker, whereby they gained the Czech business sphere,” a former Czech senior official is quoted as saying.

    “Where the Soviet soldier’s boot failed, the oil ruble succeeded,” Pacner said about Czech business people’s positive attitude to Russia.

    The paper writes that former President Václav Klaus’ publication activity is also sponsored by Russians, namely oil giant Lukoil.

    Klaus symbolically attended the Victory Day celebrations at the Russian Embassy May 9, which was boycotted by all other Czech representatives in protest against Russia’s policy on Ukraine”

  • revanchsimlives

    Found a funny bit of info here:

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140515/hungary-asks-mep-immunity-lifted-over-russia-spy-probe

    ‘Hungary’s chief prosecutor Peter Polt has turned to European Parliament President Martin Schulz to suspend the parliamentary rights of MEP Bela Kovacs,” Polt’s spokesman Geza Fazekas told AFP.’

    ‘A spokesman for Schulz, Armin Machmer, confirmed to Hungarian news agency MTI that Schulz had received the request from Budapest but said *the case would only be considered if Kovacs was reelected’* (asterisks are mine, for emphasis).

    As we say: Kilátszik a lóláb!

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