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Far-Right Hungarian MEP Charged with Espionage for Russia

Bela Kovacs said he would quit his party Jobbik in order to avoid the case being used as a political tool in the upcoming elections.

7 December 2017

European Parliamentary Member and Hungarian opposition politician Bela Kovacs (pictured) is facing charges of spying on the EU on behalf of Russia, according to Hungarian prosecutors, cited by Reuters. Kovacs denied the allegations, and said that he was looking forward to the trial date, which hasn’t been announced, to clear his name in court. He also said that the case against him is likely intended as a way of deflecting attention from ruling party Fidesz’s ties with Russia.

 

“I am almost positive this has a political relevance. It is no coincidence that it was brought up before elections. Now the court dates will probably fall in the thick of the election campaign, and clearly will be used to attack my party,” Kovacs told Reuters.  

 

Hungary’s Constitution Protection Office in May 2014 filed a case against Kovacs, a member of the far-right Jobbik party, for allegedly spying on EU institutions for Moscow. He is married to a Russian-Austrian dual citizen, who had allegedly worked for the KGB, the Soviet Union's spy agency.

 

Rumors had long circulated in Brussels about Kovacs’s alleged ties to Russian intelligence, earning him the nickname “KGBela.” He is also under investigation by OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud office, on suspicion of misusing funds meant for recruiting and paying assistants.

 

Another Central European country has been dealing with a similar case this week. The Polish military police yesterday detained former military counterintelligence head Piotr Pytel for alleged illegal collaboration with the FSB, the Russian security agency that succeeded the KGB, Deutsche Welle reports.

 

The Polish opposition has said that Pytel’s arrest was politically motivated, with European Council President Donald Tusk tweeting his support, as well as for Pytel’s predecessor Janusz Nosek, who faces similar charges: "I am proud of having been able to work with Generals Pytel and Nosek while I was prime minister. They were and continue to be a shining example of responsibility, patriotism, and honor."

 

 

  • The next Hungarian parliamentary elections will be held in April 2018. Laszlo Botka – the candidate for prime minister of Hungary’s largest liberal opposition party, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) – pulled out of the race in October, in a further blow to the chances of left-center parties in next spring’s elections.

 

  • The ruling Fidesz party had a popularity of 59 percent among voters at the end of October, according to a poll carried out by the Tarki Social Research Institute, and cited by the Hungarian Free Press. Jobbik was a distant second with 17 percent support. More than one-third of those polled, 34 percent, were undecided and unlikely to vote at all. 

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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