Translation of an interview with Lajos Simicska (pictured here speaking to Viktor Orban while head of the national tax authority in 1999), made by András Stumpf, “Simicska to Mandiner: Orbán came to me and said that he is supposed to file reports on me” (“Simicska a Mandinernek: Orbán odajött hozzám, és azt mondta, jelentenie kell rólam”) appeared on mandiner.blog.hu on 8. March 2015.
We asked for an interview opportunity from Lajos Simicska. We would have liked to know how he sees his ongoing struggle with Viktor Orbán, including its reasons, and his own role in economic and political life. We texted the media-owner/entrepreneur. A few days after that, on Sunday the telephone rang, and it was Simicska calling. He did not rule out a possible, future extensive interview, while underlining that to interpret the story, we would have to start from far back in time.
An interview by András Stumpf
András Stumpf: How far back?
Lajos Simicska: If you would like to understand the story, right at the beginning. I was born and raised in a very poor, blue collar family. My father was the secretary of a Workers’ Council in ’56, and consequently his existence was destroyed afterwards. He was destroyed physically too, being on disability pension already during my childhood. In elementary school, while we were preparing to become pioneers, I told my teacher, that I do not want to become one. “You will become a Fascist just like your father was then”. This was her answer. I have applied to university unsuccessfully on two occasions, eventually being admitted to the Faculty of Law at ELTE University on my third attempt. Before that, however, I was conscripted into the army, ending up in the barracks at Zalaegerszeg. There, a certain Major Pallos once called me into his office. There was a folder about ten centimeters thick lying on his desk. It was about me. By the age of 22 I already had that much material collected on me. Then the major proceeded with citing excerpts from the file. They knew details like what I said on a high school trip once. I was clear to me from the rest of the citations that I had remained under surveillance while I was in the army. He concluded by advising me to be more cautious, as my university place could be in danger as matters stood at that time.
AS: What did you reply to that?
LS: I replied: “I am not sure if everyone has to go to the university. Then I carried on with a quarter-hour monologue of mine basically saying that they are missing the point with me. It should not be their responsibility to break the spine of the future intellectual class of the country. The major was nice with me. He said that while he is posted there, nor harm will come to me. He also added that I should keep an eye out for the counter surveillance officer, a Lieutenant Major.
AS: Were you able to identify those who wrote reports on you?
LS: Yes there was somebody I identified. I once confronted the fellow with this, saying “How dare you…” of course using a harsher vocabulary at the time. The guy collapsed. He started to explain himself, telling me to understand him, and that he had no choice. I replied “How could you do this? We are supposed to attend the same university. Didn’t you realize that nothing remains a secret. That this would be revealed?
AS: Who was this person?
LS: His name is not important. He is dead now. He choked on a piece of stuffed cabbage.
AS: Metaphorically or literally speaking?
LS: Literally speaking.
AS: Sounds like Tarantino to me. Anything else you were able to learn from the excerpts of reports?
LS: Not from there. I had somebody openly approaching me, saying “Look, Lajos, the situation is that I am supposed to report on you.” I said to this person, that, okay, I am not angry, it is good that he let me know, we will figure out together what to write. I believe at this point you have realized, who I am talking about.
AS: Viktor Orbán?
LS: Yes. When we left the army, however, we were waiting together in a restaurant, already wearing our civilian outfits. He was then taken away from us. We were heading home with the train, with Viktor not accompanying us. Every soldier starts partying after leaving the army, so this is what we did. There he suddenly showed up. “How come you are here?” I asked. He answered that they wanted to force him to sign something, but he refused. “I believed for for thirty years, that this is what happened that day.”
AS: And now you don’t?
LS: I don’t know what to think about it now.
AS: Did you request the reports prepared about you?
LS: I have commissioned a search. As far as I know, there is nothing about me in the archives. This is very strange, because I saw my file with my own eyes when I was 22, and I have heard the reports about me from the major with my own ears.
AS: Many files disappeared in 1989-1990…
LS: From Budapest, yes. There is another city, however, where all of them could still be preserved.
AS: So you are trying to suggest that the reports the prime minister submitted are there, and that this is what Putin is blackmailing him with?
LS: Well, if these would still be there and became public, this could turn this country upside down. This is certain. In light of what happened over the past year, I don’t know what to think of who any more.