In what could be an attempt to discredit Hungary’s far-right party just days before the elections to the European Parliament, a ‘Jobbik’ MEP has been accused of being a Russian spy.
Jobbik which most analysts regard as being on the extreme far-right, and having links to paramilitary groups, is also one of the eurosceptic parties in alliance with Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France.
The Hungarian chief prosecutor has written to Martin Schulz, socialist president of the European Parliament, asking for the Jobbik MEP Béla Kovács to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity in order to allow the judiciary to investigate him over suspicions of spying for Russia.
The Hungarian press reports that the letter has been sent at the request of Hungarian counter-intelligence, which told the prosecution of its suspicions in early April, according to Euractiv online journal.
Despite suspicions allegedly being raised by counterintelligence more than a month ago, the story has emerged only days before the election when Jobbik is running second to the governing Fidesz party in opinion polls.
In national elections in April, Jobbik took 21.25 percent share of the national vote, an increase from 15.9 percent four years ago.
Kovács is reported to have denied the allegations.
A similar sudden allegation of criminal activity against an anti-EU establishment politician occurred in the United Kingdom on April 30 when Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA, and a member of the parliament of Ireland, was arrested by British police in Northern Ireland and held for four days for questioning in connection with an IRA murder which took place in 1972. He was subsequently released without charge.
The arrest does not appear to have damaged Sinn Fein’s standing in the polls, which indicate it may take three of Ireland’s 11 seats in the European Parliament.
Today the Irish Sunday Independent writes: “When it comes to Sinn Fein, the electorate appears to be in the mood to, in the case of Mr Adams, discount the sins of the past.”
Kovács, who identifies himself as an accountant, economist and lawyer on the European Parliament’s website, is on the parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.
He is also a delegate to the EU-Kazakhstan, EU-Kyrgyzstan and EU-Uzbekistan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees, and for relations with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia. He is a substitute member for Committee on Budgets and a delegate to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
EurActiv asked the European Parliament services to comment how likely is it that Kovács may have had access to confidential information of interest to Russia in his activity as MEP. A spokesperson answered that she could make “an intelligent guess that yes.”
Kovács is treasurer of the Alliance of European National Movements, whose members include Britain’s National Front, led by Nick Griffin, a politician considered toxic by most Brits.