Anti-corruption campaigners, bankers and opposition politicians in Hungary warn the government of Viktor Orban has shifted to a form of “crony capitalism” that resembles models found farther east in ex-Soviet republics.

Critics say Hungary’s economic structure is becoming a miniature version of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The only difference is that Hungary has built this system within the EU — in part, using EU funds.

As reported by the Financial Times, much of the new Fidesz-linked business elite have achieved its success primarily through state contracts, about 60% of which are funded by the EU.

“Since 2010, going along with the distortion of the whole institutional system, basically Fidesz and oligarchs close to Fidesz have captured the state,” says Jozsef Peter Martin, executive director of Transparency International, the anti-corruption group, in Budapest. “The most worrying thing about Hungary’s development today is cronyism.”

According to the Financial Times, the rise of Fidesz-linked businessmen is happening essentially in plain sight — indeed, with official approval.

Andras Lanczi, rector of Budapest’s Corvinus University, and considered an unofficial ideologist for Fidesz, told the FT that “certainly, these are Hungarian oligarchs”.

“But it is openly pursued as a policy, it is what [the government] wants,” he added. “Although [Orban] has never said that, he perhaps encourages or allows certain Hungarian entrepreneurs to get really rich, to form the top of the Hungarian middle class.”