The last bastion of an independent sound in Hungary loses its frequency tomorrow. The station Klubradio was the authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán a thorn in the eye.
“ Public channels have been spreading propaganda for years, independent media are now largely under the control of the government and oligarchs who are friends with them,” says presenter Peter Zentai, who is preparing his broadcasts in the small editorial offices of Klubradio in Budapest . The experienced journalist can boast a long track record – with the Hungarian broadcaster in the United States and Germany. But since Orbán took office as Prime Minister in 2010, he was fired with hundreds of journalists, some held the honour to themselves because of censorship. Other radio makers protested by inserting a minutes silence during the broadcast.
Last summer, the popular news site Index was taken over by an entrepreneur friendly with Orban. Most editors resigned furiously. Previously, the same thing happened, when a straw man bought up the biggest newspaper “Nepszabadsag” and immediately closed the doors. “My country has become a mafia society”, bries Zentai (66). “Because we were critical, we never got interviews with Orban, or talks with ministers. Only media under the control of the state have this access.”
The all-powerful Prime Minister, once a liberal rebel who acted loudly against Soviet communism in 1989 at Hösök Tere (Heroes Square) in Budapest, is a generation later on carrying out an authoritarian crusade against the liberal rules of the European Union. He received a scholarship from Holocaust survivor and benefactor George Soros (90) to study in England, now Orban is spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about that same Jewish billionaire. Whole highways and subways were hung with it for months. The CEU University founded by Soros even bullied Orban out of the country.
For the new US President this week, the measure was full: “Press freedom in Hungary is under constant pressure,” said Joe Biden. On the international press freedom list, the former Eastern bloc country has slipped to place 89, from 180 countries. In Europe, only Bulgaria scores worse. And yet Orbans anti-European party Fidesz continues to be patient in the Conservative European Group of the European Peoples Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, of which the Dutch CDA is
“ The European Commission will only punish Hungary in a few years time if it continues to curtail fundamental rights,” says Christoph Dreyer of Reporters Without Borders: “Its all too long to limit subsidies.” Despite widespread corruption, Hungary will receive nearly twice as many billions from Brussels over the next seven years, estimates Miklos Ligeti from Transparency International in Budapest: “Forty billion euros from the budget, including corona support. They just give Orban an extra check, a carte blanche.”
The lawyer shows that the immediate surroundings of Orban have become rich in recent years.
“His father Gyözö made a fortune in mining thanks to favorable contracts. His son-in-law Istvan Tiborcz suddenly benefits from all sorts of deals. And his plumber Lorinc Meszaros became the richest billionaire and admitted: I became rich through friendship with Orban, happiness and faith in God. His companies get generous public contracts. Without public tenders.
The new riot with Klubradio creates extra tension from Hungary with Brussels and Washington. Orban seems to be getting along better with his dictatorial friends Lukashenko and Putin, Xi and Erdogan. He suddenly allowed the Russian Sputnik vaccine, a classic Alleingang, without any European consultation.
s own fault
tells this newspaper through a spokesman that it was Klubradios own fault that they lost their frequency. “They have committed serious mistakes.” But presenter Zentai says that other radio stations “forgot the same administrative things, with no consequences.” The violation of freedom of the press demarcates Orban as a “myth.”