A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing

Recently, I was asked to review a new Bill before the Hungarian Parliament, coined as ‘In Defence of Hungarian National Sovereignty’.  There is an urgency to approve this legislation, we are told by Government outlets, as the heat is on.  Hungary’s sovereignty is under attack by dark forces, and the country needs an adequate response to repel all attacks by external and internal forces.  The Government outlets do not miss to name the targets against whom the new law would be used in defence of Hungarian Sovereignty.  Internal dark forces are all opposition parties that in 2022 acquired financing from foreign sources through crowdfunding and petty cash contributions from Hungarians living and working abroad.  Of the evil forces in distant lands, large billboards in city centres and on highways portray two dark knights: one being no other than Ursula van der Leyen, a Conservative German politician, now President of the EU Commission, and the other is Alex Soros, son of Satan George Soros. The billboard’s message is very clear (all printed in caps): we Hungarians should not dance to the tunes of catchy music that these dark knights whistle into our (Sovereign) Ears.

So that we know where the wind is coming from.  We surely need protection against these dark forces, which vigilance and good investigation under the new law would help to bring about.

As a lawyer, I have always treasured this concept of solemn sovereignty, which may mean the unobstructed governance of one person or the same by millions acting in unison by a miraculous unity of soul, mind and muscle.  Throughout my life in the legal business in many countries, I have read, in a handful of languages spanning from Latin to Russian, many laws, statutes, decrees, solemn edicts, obscure orders or black and white ukaze dressed as regulations promulgated in accordance with the due process of law.  I thought I knew “how the sausage is being made.”  This time my first reaction was that I can digest the words, follow the logic, surely there is a system to it. But the entire piece of work is double Dutch to me.  It is a toxic product whose poisonous effect is between and beyond the lines of the ordinary words used therein.  The trouble with it is what it does not say and does not do.

I have also skimmed through the explanatory notes to the Bill, too, which explain how and why the democratic processes of the electoral system and other aspects of good governance need to be protected against intervention by dark forces beyond the borders of present-day Hungary.  These lines formally resonate with other legislation, some by the EU and its member states, to protect the democratic pubic sphere and the election process against Russian, Chinese and other Rogue Countries’ influences.

The Bill creates a new agency or bureau to investigate all attempts by foreign persons to influence Hungarian public affairs.  The Bureau will be a stand-alone agency masked as an autonomous administrative agency, as bright law professors explain, in the Westminster model.  The Westminster brand in political science means that the Bureau ‘only’ investigates and then publishes its findings and if action by heavier hands is needed, it initiates the rougher procedures of other law enforcement bodies like the Police or the Tax Authority.  This autonomy, in reality, means that none of its decisions are subject to ordinary judicial review of any of its individual actions and decisions.

What does it investigate?  Conduct by citizens described in broad brush strokes. If any actions do directly or indirectly have the potential of harming or threatening the sovereignty of Hungary, the Bureau will investigate any conduct carried out in the interest of any foreign person, be this person the acting Russian Tsar or the incumbent Pope, President van der Leyen or philanthropist-heir Alex Soros.

There are virtually no standards as to what exactly may trigger a Bureau investigation.  Anything goes.  There is no requirement of probable cause for violation of a legal prescription, nor any cause for a plausible suspicion.  Any suspicion would fly.  Furthermore, there do not seem to be any restrictions upon the use of covert investigation methods against the transgressors whose actions may put Hungarian sovereignty at risk.  There is a loose process for the investigated party to participate in the investigation (again, this is not an ordinary administrative or criminal procedure).  As a result, due process, as good conservative minds construe such a term, is painfully missing.

US ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, reflected on the Bill by telling American company managers that this draft legislation makes Moscow’s notorious foreign agent law look mild and meek.  Mild and meek, indeed.  A diplomatic understatement.

How would all this investigation by the new Bureau work?  Let me spell out a not so far-fetched, that is to say, likely scenario.  I must confess I still like to listen to, in high amps, John Lennon’s song Isolation.  When a report is sent to the Bureau of my fancy, it may commence an investigation pursuant to which the Bureau may subpoena both John Lennon and this Author. If Lennon does not show up, Yoko Ono will be served with the subpoena.  The Bureau may demand the production of documents pertaining to the Author’s other habits, including the files in his laptop where a daily diary discusses at some length why we are all victims of the insane.  And once these details of my disposition have come to light, the Bureau may skim through other files in my laptop, including the one which sets out my reflections on the Decembrist Revolution against Tsar Nikolay I in 1825.  Needless to say, such notes reflect subversive stuff.  When the Bureau’s findings are distilled into a written decision and published somewhere, neither this Author nor John Lennon have the right to seek any appeal or petition a judicial review of the findings of the Bureau.  As it only investigates and does not impose any sanctions, its decisions are unreviewable.  Not unlike the powers of the State Comptroller’s Office (Állami Számvevőszék) that could find violations of campaign financing in a process that is immune to due process, including judicial review. This authority of the State Comptroller’s Office is now enshrined in the Constitution and was upheld by Hungary’s rubber-stamp Constitutional Court in 2019.

To top it off, an annual report of the Bureau will publicly set out what this Author thought about Isolation, how we are all victims of the insane, and how all this may subvert the Sovereignty of Saint Stephen’s Crown.

This is the law that will be approved by the Hungarian soi-disant Parliament next week in the interest of protecting the sovereignty and constitutional identity of this country.

This is no sheep in wolf’s clothing, nor is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is what it is: a wolf in wolf’s clothing.  Crying wolf therefore is not an overblown sheepy reaction.

Andras I. Hanak


  1. Heya! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
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    forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

    1. Thank you Ira. Register as a subscriber and that will bring you every article at the time of their publication. Happy New Year to you!

  2. This so-called ‘bill’ in Hungary is nothing more than yet another step on Orban’s road towards total autocracy. The Fidesz regime already dominates all media outlets and uses this power to spread outrageous lies with impunity about anyone who dares to criticize them. Some of the nominally ‘opposition’ political parties have also been ‘bought’, and if they refuse to fall in line, they are investigated and destroyed with exorbitant ‘fines’ by Orban’s lackeys that now dominate all state organizations like the tax office, the state accounting office and the attorney’s department. The ‘defense of sovereignity bill’ is not at all about defending Hungary’s soveregnity that nobody is attacking. It is all about defending Orban and his criminal cronies against any remaining independent sources of information from being exposed as, essentially, a bunch of mafiosi who have captured the Hungarian state. Balint Magyar in an 800 page book provides ample evidence for this claim. The real issue is that much of the Hungarian population is tired, bitter, disengaged and passive, so almost anything can now be pushed through on a parliament that has no independent voice, without meaningful opposition. Hungary is on a road to tyranny that can no longer be changed by democratic means. The delusional ideas of the ruling Fidesz elite will eventually and necessarily come into violent conflict with reality, and when that happens anything is possible. Unfortunately, Hungary’s disastrous history for the past 500 years is repeating itself yet again.

    1. I do not see any repetition here – it is always a new chapter. The simple experience that things do not end well opens up a host of potential outcomes that border disaster.

  3. Thanks for the latest “legal” outrage by the regime. Given the regime’s cozy relationship with Putin, it is doubtful if that threat to real Hungarian sovereignty will ever be ‘investigated” by this regime. NATO should cut Hungary off from any military secrets and the term secrets should be very broad.

  4. The USA law also prohibits some foreign interferences in elections:

    “The Federal Election Campaign Act (FEC) prohibits foreign nationals from contributing to a candidate’s campaign in any American election. This includes:
    Contributions, Donations, Expenditures, Independent expenditures, Disbursements, Expenditures for electioneering communications.
    The FEC also prohibits foreign nationals from participating in the decisions of any person involving election-related activity.
    The only exception to the FEC’s ban on foreign contributions is for individuals who have a “green card”. This means that they are lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. ”

    The above quote is a result of a Google search, followed by this:
    “This is not legal advice. You may want to consult a lawyer about this question.”

    1. This is not about elections only, but about any kind of political activity (and which activity isn’t political today?) or utterance even. Leaving aside the fact that Orban is actively influencing other countries elections and that the Hungarian opposition has no way of getting donations locally as any US party can from within the US, the US is a democracy. Hungary isn’t. This is not about elections, but about a completely unbridled power (which is now formalized into “law”) to investigate basically anything which may be deemed even tangentially “political”. Without judicial oversight Any political rumor Fidesz hears through its informants and the agency will investigate and everybody has to cooperate. This is about oppression not about any kind of “foreign interference” (at a time when Orban is Putin’s best agent the EU and NATO since Kim Philby). Let’s not be naive about this in 2023.

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