Written by 12:47 pm Politics

Orban’s former strongman exposes corruption: new ‘white knight’ or vindictive enemy?

Peter Magyar, a former confidant of Orban, released a recording in which his ex-wife – former Justice Minister Judit Varga – accuses a confidant of the Hungarian prime minister of influencing a corruption investigation. Varga says he forced her to do it.

Has a “white knight” emerged in Hungary who wants to offer an alternative to the power structure around Viktor Orban? Or is it about a vindictive man who tries to take revenge for the fact that his wife left him and that he can no longer benefit from the system, as the Orban government claims?

Peter Magyar (42) was a loyal party soldier of Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party for many years. He was friends with party leaders and until his divorce last year was married to Judit Varga, who was Minister of Justice from 2019 to June 2023. But in February he closed the door behind him with a loud bang and founded a new political movement: “I had no intention of going into politics,” he told The Guardian. “But I felt obliged to tell the public the truth about the government and the oligarchs.”

As long as his wife was politically active, he said he could not do that. That changed in February this year after the resignation of President Katalin Novak and Varga, who would normally lead the Fidesz list in the European elections in June. At the beginning of this year, it was leaked that Novak had pardoned the former deputy director of an orphanage where children had been abused in April 2023; Judit Varga had signed it as then Minister of Justice.

Family business

Magyar then announced on Facebook that he had had enough of a system where “the real people in charge hide behind women’s dresses.” He resigned from the board of directors of two state-owned companies and, in an interview with the YouTube channel Partizàn, revealed corruption in Hungary’s highest political and economic echelons under Viktor Orban.

According to him, all contracts for government communications should go to one company, even if it charges far too high prices. “This cannot continue like this. If we don’t want our children to grow up in a family-owned Hungary, it is worth changing this.”

On March 15, at the commemoration of the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs in 1848, Magyar addressed several thousand Hungarians in Budapest. On Monday he increased the tension by announcing that he would release a recording on Tuesday morning in which his ex sheds light on what really goes on in Hungary.

In that recording, dating from early 2023, Varga acknowledges to Magyar that an absolute confidant of Viktor Orban intervened in a corruption investigation against a State Secretary of Justice who took bribes. It concerns Antal Rogan, who heads the intelligence services and is considered Orban’s “chief of propaganda”.

Domestic violence

But according to the Hungarian government, “Magyar wants to take revenge for his wife leaving him and him losing his government positions.” In a response – also on Facebook – Varga accused her ex of domestic violence on Tuesday morning and wrote that she recorded that message under pressure from his intimidation. According to her, Magyar is now using that recording to achieve his political goals. “I am proud to have been Minister of Justice of the government led by Viktor Orbán and to be a member of Fidesz,” she concluded.

Magyar immediately shot back: “No, Judit, you didn’t say these things because I wanted to hear them, but because you also knew you were working for the mafia.” He passed the recording on to the prosecutor’s office and called on Hungarians to demonstrate in Budapest on Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. and demand the resignation of the Orban government.

But in his recent interview with the YouTube channel Partizàn, Magyar gave himself few opportunities to profoundly change the Orban system. Even though, according to him, half of Hungary is in the hands of a few families: “The biggest enemy of the Hungarian people is apathy. I won’t be able to change that on my own.”

Last modified: March 27, 2024
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