Corruption is a feature, not a bug

If Orbán’s private jet habit is sponsored by an oligarch, then it’s fine published a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, mapping the travels of Orbán throughout the summer. Turns out he was hopping from private jet to luxury yacht and back all summer.

But if you think it has consequences, or that Orbán was apologetic about it, you must be a foreigner.

So Orbán is using a private jet. You can see why that is a good thing, right? With his attitude, Ryanair would surely kick him off its flights, especially if he refuses to pay for his snacks.

So an oligarch (or so they say) came to his rescue and let him use the EUR 21 million yacht and the EUR 53 million private jet to avoid paying extra for checked luggage. And not just any yacht. The one Orbán uses was registered in the Cayman Islands and it has been renamed from “Lady M” to “Lady Mrd” – the new name translating to “Lady Billion” in Hungarian. Very cheeky. Of course, the ownership trail of both luxury toys leads nowhere, but those who witnessed the enrichment of Orbán and his family and read his wealth declaration about 2000 euros on his bank account that he shares with his SAHM wife started drawing conclusions. mapped and tracked Orbán’s summer luxury adventures. So Orbán’s spokesman announced that an oligarch, István Garancsi, who documentedly won at least billions in public tenders just this year, owns the plane and generously let the prime minister use it to attend the matches of his favorite football team abroad. So it is perfectly fine, apparently.

But Orbán isn’t apologetic anymore since he awarded himself with another unlimited supermajority in parliament and sucked the remaining life out of the resistance. He stood up in parliament and – unusually for him – answered the question about his private jet habit. He said “it has always been like that and it will always be like that”. There. Mic drop.

Naturally, there is no prosecutor who would ever pick up the case. The chief prosecutor has been installed for more than a decade and his job is to go after targets for kicking a chestnut – when told to do so – and to sit on his hands and never investigate what Orbán doesn’t want him to. He even managed to not find anything in the meticulously documented case when OLAF investigated Orbán’s son in law for tens of millions of euros in EU-funds misspent. How could he ever dare to raise his investigative eye on Orbán himself?

Instead, everyone in Fidesz and its media started to act like flying on private jets that may or may not have been lent to the PM by oligarchs is a normal thing.

Nevermind that accepting anything from a state-fattened businessman is the definition of corruption. When the president prime minister does it, that means it is not illegal – to paraphrase a classic.

This isn’t even the first such case. Just a few months ago Orbán’s Christian hypocrite deputy was caught hunting domesticated reindeer in Scandinavia from a helicopter – also paid for by a businessman who was fattened up with public tenders. Nothing happened, of course, only the Swedish police asked about the reindeer.

Yes, the previous government also stole – albeit in the pre-EU era the honeypot was vastly smaller – but they were at least ashamed when caught. Oh, I miss the old times.

Just for comparison, the (also corrupt) previous government had a vaguely similar case that ended in resignation. In 2003, an irrelevant deputy state secretary, Lajos Sári, was caught travelling together with a businessman to watch a minor football event in Manchester. (Not Monaco, and not 67 times in one summer.) There was no evidence or even a suggestion that said businessman paid for the trip (on a scheduled flight, not a private jet), only that they traveled together. And said businessman wasn’t even a direct beneficiary of Sári’s ministry. Yet, the minister issued the following statement:

“The internal investigation revealed such internal conflicts of interest in the case of Lajos Sári that are not illegal, but they are against a higher moral standard, thus deputy state secretary Lajos Sári resigned from his position with immediate effect.”

Liberal minister of education of a pre-Orbán government, Bálint Magyar, in 2003

Moral standards… How times change!

Yesterday, Garancsi won yet another tender to build yet another football stadium – 5 billion forints above the estimated price, without competition. That’s a25.7 billion forint contract – or 86 million euros. You’re welcome. We seriously needed another stadium.

Now excuse me, I’m off to rent a private jet. I heard I can fly a prime minister for a few thousand euros – a pretty solid investment if I get 86 million in return. And that’s just this week, Garancsi winning tenders is such a common occurrence it barely merits media attention anymore.

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