Recent events in Hungary have brought to life new evidence of Russia’s long-running attempts to cultivate far-right extremists in the country.
As reported by The Financial Times, members of Hungary’s neo-Nazi National Front movement (MNA) trained with Russian diplomats and men dressed in Russian military intelligence uniforms.
Emails exchanged between MNA leaders and obtained by Hungarian media reveal a strategy to secure funding from Moscow. The MNA had also founded Russian-domain website Hidfo.ru, a forum for pro-Russian disinformation on Ukraine’s war.
A person familiar with the links between Russia and the far right said the MNA — founded in 1989 and one of about a dozen extremist far-right groups in Hungary — was attracted to Russian intelligence by Moscow’s anti-western, anti-globalisation ideology and the uncertain prospect of financial support.
“It’s not about classical espionage, but rather manipulation of the press, the public and the political system,” Andras Dezso, a journalist who has investigated Hungary’s far-right movement, was quoted as saying by FT.
“The Russians are using totally different weapons to create an alternative reality. They want to disorient people, to make them feel unsafe,” he added.
Meanwhile, Hungary’s former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany claims hundreds of Russian spies are operating unchallenged in Hungary, turning Budapest into a “Little Moscow”.
As for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, he enjoys cordial relations with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Orban has also been a vociferous opponent of EU sanctions on Russia and has said that cooperation with Moscow is imperative for Hungarian national interests.