To What Extent Bailing Out Russian Oligarchs in Hungary’s Interest?

How is it in the interest of Hungary and the Hungarian people to protect Russian oligarchs from sanctions? This question was recently posed on Twitter by the US Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman. A perfectly legitimate question, regardless of the fact that it was posed by someone who is clearly not impartial in the conflict.
The Orbán government has been deliberately manipulating public opinion in a very clear and obvious way since the start of Russian aggression: basically to cover up its own crimes, but often to bend reality to suit Russian interests. It is memorable how frozen the propaganda machine was after Putin’s bloody attack, the possibility of which the Fidesz whistleblowers denied with a laugh and a smile until the last moment. It is worth remembering how difficult it was for the Fidesz state to condemn the Russian aggression, even if only minimally, and how disgracefully and mendaciously they tried to portray the opposition as ‘pro-war’.
We remember how many times Orbán declared that the government would support any EU sanctions on which there was agreement, and then, despite the fact that he also supported, quite rightly, by the way, all unanimous EU sanctions, they spewed anti-sanctions propaganda based on idiotic lies onto the public at home.
In a democratic country with a normal public life, it would be perfectly legitimate and right to debate which EU measures, in their original form, cause or could cause excessive damage to certain Member States; you may recall that I, for example, protested against the general sanctions on oil before the Fidesz government asked for a waiver. There has long been no room here, however, for sober and substantive debate and for thinking together about the common issues of our common country, while, in fact, there is great need for truthful discussion on the subject of sanctions. Yes, there really is.
It is interesting that the questions of the ‘national consultation’, which cost billions of forints, did not include a single one on the ‘Brussels sanctions’, for example, which restrict Russian President Putin’s sphere of interest and his financial and physical freedom of movement through his oligarchic circle. These all serve the undisputed purpose of narrowing the options of the aggressor Russian President, critically shrinking his hinterland and thus promoting the possibility of peace as soon as possible.
The nine packages of sanctions adopted so far consist mostly of such restrictions and measures, and the Orbán government has voted for them one by one, just like the ones against which they continue their propaganda campaign based on the already cited, nonsense lies. Therefore, it is a perfectly legitimate question to what extent it serves the Hungarian national interest to give cover to important economic figures in Putin’s entourage and to ask for the restrictions against them to be lifted. Because the Hungarian interest (as in so many other situations) is not at all identical to the interests of the NER (Orbán’s so-called National Cooperation System).
The Hungarian government is currently lobbying Brussels to remove nine Russian oligarchs from the sanctions list of more than a thousand people and nearly 200 organizations, which was jointly adopted by the European Community, saying that there is ‘no legal or substantive reason’ for maintaining the restrictions against them. Well, then, allow me help you out, dear Orbán government: the reason for the sanctions is to put an end to Russian aggression and bring about peace as soon as possible. You know, the peace that you talk so much about and do so little about.
Just to be clear: the nine oligarchs and Putin-linked individuals that the Fidesz government is lobbying for (and for which we are making more and more enemies within the European Community) are in fact entrepreneurs involved in fertilizer and metal production who are largely responsible for the global food and raw materials market anomalies, as well as being direct or indirect supporters of Putin’s war and personal confidants of the aggressor President. There is no visible and clear reason why it would be in the interests of the Hungarian nation to confront the united European Community in order to free the economic leeway for these individuals.
It would be a basic expectation of the Fidesz government that, if it knows of such a clear reason, it should disclose it to the public. The business and personal links of the NER to these circles are not, in fact, worth sacrificing one of the tools that holds the potential for early peace.
One thing is certain: the Fidesz government and the elite of the NER will one day have to account for the business and personal connections (or even compulsions) that tied them to the Putin-listed regime, and how the family of the head of Russian intelligence was able to obtain Hungarian residency bonds, why the staff of the Russian investment bank’s Budapest headquarters were granted unprecedented diplomatic immunity, and why the NER and the leaders of the Hungarian government have (not so covertly, in fact) served Putin’s interests in this historic situation. They have the power to cover up the whole truth for now, but the time will come when they will have to account for everything. Sooner or later, they will have to.

István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
Founder of the Community of Chance

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