Hungarian prosecutors have yet to formally question Jobbik Member of the European Parliament Béla Kovács about espionage charges levied against him, reports daily online index.hu. With less than a month to finish their investigation, the prosecutors appear to be playing for time. If granted a formal extension, the “KGBéla” controversy may drag out until Hungary’s 2018 national election.
The scandal erupted just before the 2014 European Parliament elections when news emerged that the Hungarian Parliament’s Committee on National Security would convene to discuss allegations that one of Jobbik’s three representatives in the European Parliament is a Russian spy.
Hungary’s Constitutional Protection Office (which had been investigating Kovács) made its case before a closed hearing of the Committee on National Security. Based on the few details given of the meeting by committee members, it was pretty obvious that there were legitimate grounds for concern.
As stories surfaced about Kovács’ education and work history, it became apparent that there is more to Kovács than simply being a rich supporter of Jobbik.
Itself reeling from scandals about its own ties to Russia, the government of Hungary accused Kovács of spying for Russia and funding Hungary’s far-right extremist Jobbik party with funds obtained from Russia.
András Dezső of Index.hu writes that there are two reasons why the government may want to sit on the KGBéla story until the 2018 election. Prolonging the scandal until 2018 can hurt Jobbik in the polls, and, if it is true that Kovács is a Russian spy, the Orbán government can avoid damaging ties with Moscow.
Last month the European Parliament voted to lift Kovács’s parliamentary immunity, thereby paving the way for Hungarian prosecutors to launch a case against him.