Hungarian Watch

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

NO ORBÁN DAY! Demonstration for Democracy Planned for TODAY!

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Date:  TODAY, February 1st, 2011

Time: 5-7pm

Location: Fidesz Headquarters, Szentkirályi Street 18, Budapest

Featured Poet: Akos Kertesz (Kossuth Prize)

Featured Speakers: Gaspar Miklos Tamas (philosopher); Laszlo Marton (writer).

Tomorrow, February 1st, a demonstration for democracy is planned at the Fidesz Headquarters in Budapest.  Called “No Orbán Day,” the demonstration will take place on the 66th anniversary of the day that Hungary became a republic form of government instead of a kingdom (the 2nd Hungarian Republic).

The demonstration is being organized by Left-Wing Feminist Network.

Today, the Democrats need to act again, because we again have a politician who is authoritarian, dictatorial, so the 3rd Hungarian Republic is in danger.

We are convinced that the manner of enacting the deeply antidemocratic laws, that have been solely created to make, in all ways, the ruling party’s authority irremovable, is a pusillanimous political attitude of this party. Our duty is to save the idea of the Republic and to openly express our protestation against the democrature.

To learn more about the demonstration, click here.  To see an interactive Google Map to find the exact location, click here.

Please help spread the word.  If you are in Hungary and are able to attend, please do!  THEN, please return back to Hungarian Watch and let us know how it went by posting a comment below!


Regional WATCH: Eulogy for Anna Mashutina, A Playwright Killed in Moscow Airport Terrorist Attack

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Anna Mashutina, the 29-year old playwright who was killed is last week's terrorist attack at the Moscow airport. She leaves behind her husband and 3-year old daughter, Masha.

A moving eulogy for Anna Mashutina, a Ukranian playwright/journalist whose plays “had drawn rapt admiration in Moscow”.  The article paints a beautiful picture of Mashutina as a bashful person who was also a critically important new voice in the Russian theatre scene.

Of all the 35+ victims of the terrorist attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport on January 24th, 29-year old Mashutina was among the youngest. Our hearts go out to her husband and their 3-year old daughter, Masha.


A Playwright’s Voice, Silenced in a Flash of Terrorism in Moscow by Ellen Barry in The New York Times, January 25, 2011

Regional WATCH: Belarus “Frees” 7 Prisoners Under Pressure; A Dozen Still In Jail

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 8:17 am

Vladimir Neklyaev on Saturday after he was released from prison in Minsk. He was greeted by an applauding crowd when he arrived home.

Facing tough sanctions from the EU and the US, Belarus President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko and his government have “freed” at least 7 political prisoners – all oppositional leaders who were arrested after Lukashenko “won” the fraudulent presidential election by 80%.

This news must certainly be a relief to the families of the “freed” oppositional leaders, but we must qualify the good news because, as the article does a good job explaining, the leaders are still under something resembling strict house arrest. “They still face lengthy prison terms and are under heavy surveillance” from the K.G.B.

As a side note, we have to say that we find it somewhat ironic that the EU is currently putting together a package of sanctions against Lukashenko and his government, while under the leadership of EU President (and aspiring autocrat) Viktor Orban of Hungary. We urge you to skim through our collection of articles documenting the ways Orban and his Fidesz party are flouting democracy and tell us if you think he can have credibility leading such sanctions, while being such a hypocrite. Share your thoughts in our comments section!

Facing Sanctions, Belarus Frees Seven Political Prisoners, but a Dozen Remain in Jail by Michael Schwirtz in The New York Times, January 30, 2011

*VIDEO: What is happening in Hungary 101

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

For anyone who wants a relatively comprehensive, easy-to-understand, 8:13 catch-up lesson on the entire political situation in Hungary, click the above image to watch the video included in France24‘s wonderfully educative article, The Beginning of the End for Free Speech?

As a bonus, the video includes a brief interview with free speech scholar and Fidesz co-founder Peter Molnar, with whom Hungarian Watch conducted a 3-hour exclusive interview last week.  The interview will be released next week!

Good News: Hungary seems poised to make changes to media law

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Finally, we have some potentially good news!  As reported by Peter Spiegel in the Financial Times, “Hungary’s foreign minister [Janos Martonyi] said Brussels’ legal findings against his government’s media law could easily be overcome, the clearest sign yet that Budapest is willing to make changes in the face of international condemnation.”

Of course, the EU has only challenged three parts of the media law:

  1. its requirement for “balanced coverage”
  2. its restrictions on foreign media
  3. its requirement that all media be registered with national regulators

Without trying to downplay the significance of the changes Hungary now seems poised to make–these changes are vital–even if Hungary does modify the law in these three areas, the spirit of the new media law is still in place:  that Big Brother is watching and freedom of the press is still on shaky ground.

This article is also good for acknowledging and responding to Hungary’s (baseless) claims that this furor over the new media law is really no big deal and is, “in actuality,” really just an effort by the liberal media to attack Hungary.

Official Letter from Neelie Kroes to Hungarian Government, Giving Two-Week Ultimatum

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

Click here to see the full, official letter that Neelie Kroes (VP of European Commission, responsible for digital agenda) sent to the Hungarian government, giving it two weeks to show that its new media law does, in fact, follow EU regulations.  If Hungary fails to do so, it can face a court case and/or fines.

As reported earlier, the European Commission (EC) found Hungary’s new media law “unsatisfactory” in a preliminary investigation.

The Hungarian government issued a statement that it would respond to the letter from the EC before the two weeks expire.  We cannot wait to see how they try to weasel out of this one…

Our Hearts Go Out to Moscow

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm

A suicide bomber killed 35 and injured 150 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport this afternoon.  Please read this article on Reuters online for more details: Suicide bomber kills 35 at Russia’s biggest airport.

Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.


The American Hungarian Federation Wants “Fair and Balanced” Reporting?

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm

In an e-news letter sent on January 21st, the notoriously Orban-loving American Hungarian Federation included a “headline” entitled A Rush to Judgment: AHF Statement on the Hungarian Media Law.

In this first official statement from the organization, AHF accuses the international media of reporting based on hyperbole rather than facts.

“We should certainly be vigilant and attentive to press freedoms and the laws governing them in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe. However, there has been an unprecedented rush to judgment and vitriolic media coverage of the newly enacted media law in Hungary. This judgment seems to have been based, at best, on a partial understanding of the law itself and, in some cases, appears to be motivated by bias or political considerations. The negative coverage is premature, unfair and paints a false picture of Hungary, a nation which emerged from over 40 years of Soviet-imposed Communist repression to successfully re-join the democratic community of nations. Hungary has amply demonstrated its commitment to Western values – now and in the past.”

AHF goes on to defend Orban’s Media Law by saying that the Hungarian government supports a full review of the law and is open to making changes.  They ask that the international media refrain from judgment until that review is complete.  (So, the media shouldn’t report anything about the media law until a pain-staking, exhaustive review concludes?  No wonder Orban loves you guys.)  They also make the case that other Western European countries have similar media laws, but Hungary is the only EU member being singled out.  Um…could someone PLEASE tell us WHAT countries’ media laws are similar?  Not Russia, not Belarus–but EU countries.  Which ones?

Based on this first statement, it appears that our friends at AHF believe Reuters, Spiegel, The Budapest Times, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, BBC, USA Today, CNN, The Independent, The Economist, The New York Times, The Prague Daily Monitor, The Guardian, Variety, the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, the Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and The Washington Post are all reporting hastily and unfairly on this new media law.  AND, apparently, Human Rights Watch was just being plain mean to Orban when it issued a statement against Hungary’s media law and the negative trend in the country’s wider human rights obligations.  Not to mention that a preliminary EU investigation has already deemed the media law “unsatisfactory,” and Hungary now has two-weeks to prove the law complies with EU standards or it faces a court case.  But let’s not report on this until Hungary’s two-weeks are up.  We wouldn’t want to be rushing to conclusions, would we?

AHF, it’s a real shame you haven’t been able to get Fox News to report on the merits of Orban’s current reign in Hungary.  We have a feeling they just might be the only “fair and balanced” news organization your members take stock in these days. But that’s just a hunch…

EU threatens Hungary with legal action over media law

In Uncategorized on January 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

After European Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said last week that a preliminary investigation found Hungary’s new media law “unsatisfactory,” the European Union (EU) has given Hungary two weeks to show that its new media law complies with EU regulations – or it faces legal action that could lead to a court case against Hungary as well as heavy fines.

Sorry, Hank (i.e., the European Hugo Chavez, i.e., Viktor Orban):  apparently, not even your charisma and charm are great enough to get a pass for flouting democracy.

EU Threatens Hungary with Legal Action Over Media Law by Justyna Pawlak in Reuters, January 22, 2011.

The democracy-flouting Hungary may get a flogging from the EU

VIDEO: Hank Gets A Spanking

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Hank…um….we mean Hugo Chavez, Jr., gets a big ol’ spanking from the Green party leader, Daniel Cohn-Bendit.  Watch the video above.  English subtitles are included in the video itself, but here are some highlights from Bendit’s speech:

Now, Viktor Orban, you are on the way to becoming a European Chavez, a national populist who does not understand the essence and structure of democracy.

And I tell you a simple thing, Mr. Orban:  balanced information does not exist.  Do you think that Mr. Nixon found the information about the Watergate issue balanced?  And what do you think, did Mr. Bush find the information about Abu Graihb issue balanced?!  Surely not.

…The information has to annoy politicians.  And to us, that feels bad sometimes.  (Applause.)

And this is why, Mr. Orban, your law does not correspond to teh values of the EU today.

You say you want a strong Europe, Mr. Orban.  A strong Europe has to be credible!  How could we be credible by accepting a law which we criticize by Lukashenko and China, who also want only “balanced information”?  (Applause.)

Do you understand, Mr. Orban, that we, the EU, were born against totalitarianism?!

The basis of democracy, of liberty, is simply the freedom of speech.  Not one democracy died because of too much freedom, but when freedom is restricted.

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