Hungary is one of Russia’s primary targets for disinformation, and the radical right-wing administration there has contributed to the propagation of Moscow’s narrative, according to IntelliNews analysts.
European Parliamentary committee found Russian trolls in Hungary
A European Parliamentary committee revealed how Russia targeted Hungary and Spain in particular with disinformation operations and other strategies to increase its influence within the European Union. A study from a Hungarian NGO revealed the existence of a large Kremlin troll network operating in Hungary.
Russia tries to destabilize the EU
The goal of the Russian disinformation operation, which has evolved into a crucial weapon in the war with Ukraine, according to experts testifying before the committee, is to create confusion and destabilize Europe.
According to Peter Kreko, managing director of Political Capital, an independent policy research and consulting institute, Hungary has emerged as one of the most successful examples of this troll attack because the Hungarian government has adopted the Russian narrative while upholding the nation’s reliance on Russia for its energy needs.
“The Fidesz-led administration hasn’t done much over the previous 12 years to diminish Hungary’s dependence on Russian gas, which is the most in the EU”, he remarked.
Budapest has agreed to all sanctions against Russia but has vowed to oppose any plan that would jeopardize its reliance on Moscow for its energy needs. The Russian crude import embargo that will start in early December will not apply to Hungary because it gets Russian oil through pipelines.
Hungarian energy ties to Russia
Hungary has a 15-year gas deal with Gazprom, but despite assertions from Vladimir Putin that Budapest is receiving gas at a fifth of the market price, this has shown to be false because the formula determining the price is tied to the Dutch TTF gas hub with a two- to three-month lag.
Hungary gave the Russian state-owned energy corporation Rosatom a contract in 2014 to construct two 1,200 MW reactors in Paks, next to the nation’s lone nuclear power plant. Despite the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russian businesses, the administration intensified the investment after securing a fourth consecutive supermajority victory.
The number of employees at the Russian embassy in Hungary sharply increased
According to Kreko, the number of employees at the Russian embassy in Hungary has expanded in the last year from 46 to 56, even though the vast majority of EU countries have expelled Russian ambassadors since the invasion of Ukraine.
Even while several of its CEE counterparts left the financial organization viewed by many as a “spy nest” of the Kremlin, Hungary has stayed dedicated to its membership in the International Investment Bank (IIB), which transferred its headquarters from Moscow to Budapest a few years ago.
Russian online troll network in Hungary
According to a report released by Political Capital, a Russian online troll network operating in Hungary is openly in activity.
Experts examined databases of pertinent Facebook comments made between February 25 and July 31 using the SentiOne online monitoring technology, and their analysis revealed that Russian propaganda began in full force shortly after the start of the war.
The same three or four justifications for the war have consistently been shared by pro-Russian trolls, most heavily just after the war began.
Trolls spread anti-Ukraine propaganda in Hungary
Among these are assertions that “Ukraine has perpetrated genocide” against the nation’s minorities. Numerous posts on social media by Russian trolls in Hungary suggest that NATO wants to build a military facility close to the Black Sea or that “Ukraine as a state does not exist.”
The marginally pro-EU Fidesz camp turned to Putin as Orban demonized Western partners for criticizing Hungary’s democratic fall and for renouncing its traditional Christian origins. Pro-Russia viewpoints are strengthened by the Orban government’s opportunistic actions and the highly pro-government media.
Orban’s government launches campaign against sanctions on Russia
With billboards showing a bomb with the word “sanctions” on them, the government has lately started an advertising campaign against EU sanctions on Russia.
The initiative, which is largely perceived by analysts as another government communication technique to place the responsibility for high energy costs and inflation at the European level, has been condemned by the EU.