Ear­lier this week, as Europe was preparing for continent-​​wide par­lia­men­tary elec­tions that deliv­ered 25 per­cent of the seats to the anti–European Union pop­ulist right and left, Hun­gary was busy asking the EU Par­lia­ment to revoke diplo­matic immu­nity for Béla Kovács, a promi­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Hungary’s far-​​right Jobbik party, in order to charge him with spying on the EU for Russia. Kovács is also accused of chan­neling Russian funds to sup­port the estab­lish­ment of Jobbik, which burst on the Hun­garian polit­ical scene in 2009 with a sus­pi­ciously well-​​financed cam­paign for the EU Parliament.

The charges were inflam­ma­tory, although per­haps not sur­prising. In the run-​​up to this month’s elec­tion, Russia is known to have sup­ported anti-​​EU par­ties on the far right and far left in an attempt to influ­ence and even under­mine the union. One of those par­ties is Jobbik, which is Hungary’s second-​​largest party, and whose sup­porters dress in Nazi-​​type uni­forms, spout anti-​​Semitic rhetoric, and express con­cern about Israeli “col­o­niza­tion” of Hun­gary. And Jobbik’s pro-​​Russia stance has never been hidden. Its 2010 elec­tion pro­gram described the estab­lish­ment and main­te­nance of good rela­tions with “an increas­ingly influ­en­tial Russia” as vitally impor­tant. In May 2013, in a lec­ture at Moscow’s Lomonosov Uni­ver­sity, Jobbik party leader Gábor Vona char­ac­ter­ized Russia, as opposed to the “treach­erous” Euro­pean Union, as the guardian of Euro­pean heritage.

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