DW Analysis: Hungary, Russia’s Espionage Hub in the EU How vulnerable was the Budapest government to Moscow’s threat

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán maintains a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Orban has repeatedly blocked EU sanctions against Russia. Andar In his country, Russian agents continue to be free, Show an analysis Deutsche Welle.

In late November 2022, Ukrainian special forces arrested a suspected Russian agent at a border crossing with Hungary. In which country BHe wanted to kidnap informantsAnd.

These are stored on a USB stick, They targeted the leadership and staff of the Ukrainian domestic intelligence service SBU and the military intelligence service GUR, as well as sensitive information about Ukrainian military bases, weapons and logistics. The stick was about to be delivered Russian Embassy from Budapest, Hungary.

Journalist Zabolcs Bani, who reported the case for the Balkan Insight portal, has long been investigating Russian espionage in Hungary. He fears Budapest could become a hub for Russian intelligence inside the EU. Currently, more than 50 accredited diplomats work in the Hungarian capital, while in Prague, Warsaw and Bratislava, taken together, I’m a little over 20

Many agents are known to work under a consulate because they enjoy immunity, meaning they cannot be prosecuted by host country authorities.The journalist explains For DW.

In addition to employees of the Russian Embassy, ​​employees of the International Investment Bank (IIB) in Hungary, established during the Soviet era, also enjoy immunity. The bank’s headquarters were moved from Moscow to Budapest three years ago. This means that the bank does not have to fear the Hungarian financial supervisory authority, criminal investigation or courts.

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When the move was announced, the Hungarian opposition already suspected the government in Budapest of supporting the establishment of the KBG network. Not without reason, the head of the IIB, Nikolai Kosov, came from a family of spies. Reports DW. DHis father was a KGB resident in Budapest, and his mother was hailed by the Russian news agency TASS. One of the most notable spies of the 20th century.

After Invasion Russia In UkraineEU and NATO countries are involved Until then, inside IIB – Bulgaria, Romania, Czechwill take and Slovakia – announced withdrawal from the bank. There was Hungary. Also, since the beginning of the Russian occupation, all EU countries have been willing to expel Russian spies operating under diplomatic cover. In this case, Hungary made an exception.

Szábolcs Panyi says that he can list many cases of Russian secret services operating in Hungary, and that Hungarian authorities take note of this without protest. Bela Kovacs, a former MEP from the conservative right-wing Jobbik party. Kejibila.

He was condemned by the Hungarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution in April 2014, but in April 2017 was charged with spying for Russia. It took eight years before the final sentence was handed down. During this time, Kovacs was able to flee to Moscow, Panyi reports in an interview with DW.

Bani and his colleagues also explored the background to the Orbán government’s close ties to Putin. Journalists concluded that Moscow threatened the Hungarian government, for example with Russian fossil fuels and joint energy deals, as well as the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant with Russian technology and financing.

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