Former prime minister and Democratic Coalition chairman Ferenc Gyurcsány published a video on Monday that has since had over 1.3 million views on Facebook. In it, Gyurcsány drives to Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county in northeastern Hungary to investigate the strange phenomenon of Ukrainian nationals who receive a pension in Hungary.
According to Gyurcsány, provided some basic criteria are met, Ukrainian nationals can receive a pension from the Hungarian state thanks to a treaty that has been in effect for some five decades.
“They never lived here, they don’t live here,” a local says in the video. “They never worked [here]. [The pension of] Hungarian citizens is only a fraction of this.”
Another person says: “They destroy all evidence that would have otherwise have proven how much their pension was in Ukraine.”
Gyurcsány says in the video: “Ukrainian citizens in droves are registering [their residences] in Hungary in hopes of receiving a higher Hungarian pension.”
In one such village, he says, the population has grown by one and a half times over the past few years.
According to Gyurcsány, the populations of these villages is “inexplicably” growing at a rapid rate. The former Socialist prime minister between 2004 and 2009 says that there may be as many as 26,000 Ukrainian citizens in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county who only registered their residence in Hungary so that they would receive various forms of welfare and a pension.
Locals tell Gyurcsány’s video crew that these individuals are involved in pension fraud, intentionally misrepresenting their employment history in Ukraine. Furthermore, these locals claim that dozens – in one case, hundreds – of Ukrainians share the same registered address.
“This is a nasty story and a nasty business,” Gyurcsány says. “The pension business may operate because this is how the government buys the kind of activity without which it would lose villages and towns,” he continues, ostensibly referring to election fraud.
In one of these villages, he says, the number of Ukrainians listed in the referendum registry in 2016 exceeded the number of Hungarian residents of the village. According to him, these Ukrainians mobilize in Hungarian elections if called upon to do so. (The next Hungarian national election will be on April 8.)
The video draws to a close with a picture of a smiling Prime Minister Viktor Orbán overlaid with the following text: “Fidesz is giving Ukrainians a pension in exchange for votes!” The final frame of the movie reads: “Hungarians should not have to pay Ukrainian pensions!”