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Weeklies on Simicska’s accusations

March 16th, 2015

Left-wing magazines point out how damaging the charge levelled against the Prime Minister by his former close ally is. Liberal pundits think the uncertainty about former real or imagined police informants should have been settled long time ago by publishing all Communist secret service files, while right-wing commentators call Mr Simicska’s allegations sheer slander.

In 168 óra, editor Ákos Mester disagrees with those who believe that the latest charges are harbingers of Viktor Orbán’s demise. Mester doesn’t dismiss the accusations, but demands that the truth should be revealed once and for all. As far as Simicska is concerned, he wonders if the Prime Minister’s former friend insinuated that Mr Orbán was an informant of the communist secret services because he lost his temper, or because he wanted to frighten his former friend-turned-opponent and show that the gloves are now off.

In Figyelő, Zoltán F. Baka calls Simicska’s move masterly, because this kind of accusation is bound to stick to the targeted person and any denial would necessarily further harm the Prime Minister. The only response is to remain completely silent, or to ignore the charge as ridiculous. The government hopes that if it does not react vehemently, the public will see a fencing event where there is only one contender – Mr Simicska – striking wildly in the air with his sword without no-one in front of him. The former party treasurer of Fidesz wants to destroy Mr Orban morally, but he would need hard evidence to achieve this, Baka concludes.

In Vasárnapi Újság, Nóra Diószegi-Horváth and Viktória Krausz explain that the episode referred to by Simicska, if true, would express a practice which was very common among conscripts in the army under communism. According to Simicska, Orban who was then eighteen years old, told him he had to report about him to their superiors and agreed with him on what to tell them. Secret Service operatives had many such contacts among conscripts but this kind of relationship didn’t mean that those conscripts were recruited or that they had to write reports on their fellow soldiers. Many accepted the commission in order to get frequent leaves, and the authors quote an acquaintance of Orbán’s on record as saying that the future Prime Minister was denied leave for several months while performing his military service in 1982.

In its weekly editorial, Magyar Narancs finds Simicska’s story barely credible on one point. The former party treasurer said that during his military service a major showed him a pile of reports by agents about him. The mere existence of such files was a state secret at the time, Magyar Narancs remarks. The editor believes in any case that the former treasurer is out to destroy the Viktor Orban personality cult, and since political passions are mostly based on irrational feelings, the effect of these accusations should not be underestimated.  If one day Orbán is finally brought down, Mr Simicska will deserve a quiet ‘thank you’, the author suggests. Magyar Narancs adds that mud thrown like this sticks because “the agent story” is still surrounded by “an impenetrable fog”.

In Heti Világgazdaság István Riba blames the Prime Minister himself for becoming the target of suspicion, because his governments have “sabotaged efforts to bring Secret Service files into the light”. The solution, Riba thinks, would be to transfer all pre-1990 documents to public archives, open them to researchers and fund the professional processing of those files. (As a general rule, they are in the custody of a special archive and are accessible to researchers and the individual citizens concerned.)

In Magyar Demokrata, Péter Bándy remarks that Mister Orban’s Secret Service files are already accessible and have been extensively publicised over the past years. In other words, he continues, those who demand the publication of communist Secret Service files, are forcing an open door.

In the same weekly, editor András Bencsik compares Mr Simicska to Lieutenant Hegedűs, the anti-hero of The Stars of Eger, a popular novel by Géza Gárdonyi, who tried to lead the Turkish enemy into the besieged fortress of Eger in the mid-sixteenth century. Slander is like mud, he writes – it sticks to you, but it is the weapon of the wicked against the stronger and the more talented. “Times are hard, there are scores of traitors and many have become undecided, Bencsik writes, but he is confident that “the faithful will stick together”.

In Heti Válasz, editor Gábor Borókai recalls that in 1989 Orbán was criticised by his opponents for being too bold in demanding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary. He finds it tasteless that the accusation of having been an informant of the communist secret services should come from a former comrade in arms. The two men have obviously become adversaries, but levelling accusations without any new facts or evidence is an example of making politics on the basis of one’s own wounded feelings. Wisdom, fairness and moderation are virtues to be followed both by supporters and adversaries of the incumbent government, Borókai warns.


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