The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs has voted to approve a request for the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of far-right Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács. The committee’s recommendation will now go to a plenary session of the European Parliament for a vote.
Last April, Hungary’s Constitutional Protection Office submitted findings to Hungary’s chief prosecutor alleging that Kovács has been spying for Russia.
Due to his role as a member of the European Parliament, Hungarian prosecutors could not officially indict Kovács until he either waived his immunity from prosecution or the European Parliament voted to lift his immunity.
The timing of the outing of Kovács last year coincided brilliantly with Hungary’s European Parliament elections. Media mayhem ensued as Jobbik grappled with the fallout of having their MEP, commonly referred to as “KGBéla” by Jobbik party members, targeted by Hungarian authorities.
“The entire scandal amounts to nothing less than a plot by foreign countries, specifically by America, based on fabricated evidence which, in turn, encourages the Hungarian government to carry out an unscrupulous slanderous campaign against Jobbik,” according to Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona. He speculated at the time that “the purpose of this slanderous campaign against Jobbik is to stop us from our continued growth and to retard our prospects for the upcoming EP elections”.
Beyond the domestic political damage caused to Jobbik by Kovács’ legal woes, the story did shine light once again on Russia’s close ties to Hungary’s extremist Jobbik party.