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Jobbik politician suspected of spying for Russia

May 20th, 2014

As a Jobbik MEP stands accused of being a Russian spy, a left-wing philosopher accuses the government of using the state apparatus – including the secret service – to criminalize the opposition. A pro-government columnist dismisses the left-wing accusations.

Last week, Magyar Nemzet reported that the Chief Prosecutor suspects Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács of spying for Russia, and asked the European Parliament to lift Mr Kovács’s immunity. The pro-government daily recalls that Mr Kovács, who studied in Moscow in the 1980s, was invited by Russia in March to participate as an observer at the Crimean referendum. He called the vote ‘legal and fair.’ The authorities allegedly have evidence of ‘conspiratorial’ meetings between Mr Kovács and Russian officials. Béla Kovács and the Jobbik leadership have denied the accusations. The Parliamentary Committee on National Security put questions to Mr Kovács and Jobbik leader Gábor Vona at a closed hearing on Monday.

The criminalization of the opposition is the precursor of dictatorship,” Gáspár Miklós Tamás comments in Heti Világgazdaság. The Marxist philosopher believes that the accusations based on biographic contingencies do not prove any illegal act of conspiracy on the side of Kovács, and wonders if the Jobbik MEP could share any classified information with Moscow at all. Even if Kovács lobbied for Russian interests, this is not in itself a violation of law. By accusing him of spying, the Fidesz government is using public institutions, including the secret service, to weaken the far-right Jobbik party, Tamás believes. Through criminalizing the anti-Roma and anti-Semitic party without openly contesting its core ideas, Fidesz wants to attract Jobbik supporters ahead of the 25 May European Parliamentary elections, he suspects. In an aside, Tamás wonders if Fidesz will use the secret services next to accuse liberal, Socialist or green politicians.

Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer finds it peculiar that left-wing intellectuals use the opportunity to accuse the Fidesz government of criminalizing opposition politicians. The left has for years claimed that Fidesz was being too soft on Jobbik, but now the same critics say that Fidesz is using the state apparatus to keep the far-right party at bay. It is not at all surprising that the details of the case are kept classified, Bayer continues, despite the fact that Jobbik uses the lack of information to claim that the whole case has been dreamt up by its enemies. In a brief comment on the April Parliamentary election, Bayer claims that ‘most’ of Jobbik’s voters used to be MSZP supporters. In the light of all this, Bayer believes that it has become very hard for the left to maintain that tacit cooperation between Fidesz and Jobbik exists.

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