RussiaNovember 2 2022, 10:23 am

Brussels Office of Orban Sponsored Educational Facility to Open in Brussels; MCC is a Platform for Rightwing Figures

US media is report­ing on the immi­nent open­ing of the new Brus­sels office of the Math­ias Corv­i­nus Col­legium (MCC), a Hun­gar­i­an edu­ca­tion facil­i­ty backed by the regime of Hun­gar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orbán. Accord­ing to a POLITICO report, Hun­gar­i­an crit­ics say the MCC office will estab­lish “an anti-EU, far-right polit­i­cal pow­er­house in Brussels:”

Novem­ber 1, 2022  A think tank fund­ed by illib­er­al Hun­gar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orbán is set to dis­rupt the Brus­sels chin-stroking scene when it launch­es this month — pro­vok­ing a fierce back­lash from detrac­tors back home. MCC Brus­sels — an arm of the Math­ias Corv­i­nus Col­legium (MCC), a Budapest-based col­lege that has con­tro­ver­sial­ly received bil­lions of forints from Orbán’s gov­ern­ment — plans to “pro­vide an alter­na­tive” for Europe’s “polar­ized cul­tur­al land­scape,” accord­ing to one of its founders. The cen­ter — backed by Hungary’s right-wing, EU-con­fronta­tion­al gov­ern­ment — will shake up a think tank ecosys­tem in Brus­sels cur­rent­ly dom­i­nat­ed by large­ly homo­ge­neous, pro-Euro­pean thought. In an op-ed for POLITICO pub­lished Tues­day, Hun­gar­i­an-Cana­di­an aca­d­e­m­ic and direc­tor of the new think tank, Frank Fure­di, said he wants to pro­mote “mature, thought­ful dis­cus­sion about the cul­tur­al ten­sions that pre­vail on the Con­ti­nent,” argu­ing that since Orbán’s reelec­tion in April, anti-Hun­gar­i­an sen­ti­ment has been on the rise. Fure­di — who will lead the cen­ter along with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Dresden’s Wern­er Patzelt as research direc­tor — added in his op-ed that, “Hun­gary is hat­ed by the West’s cul­ture war­riors for the sim­ple rea­son that it dares to ques­tion their post-tra­di­tion­al­ist, iden­ti­ty-pol­i­tics-fueled world view.” But there was an imme­di­ate back­lash from crit­ics of Orbán’s gov­ern­ment, which has been at log­ger­heads with the EU for years over issues includ­ing back­slid­ing on the rule of law and LGBTQ+ rights. István Ujhe­lyi, a Hun­gar­i­an oppo­si­tion MEP from the Social­ists & Democ­rats group, told POLITICO that the think tank move is in line with the “strate­gic build-up that Fidesz [Orbán’s rul­ing par­ty] has been doing for a long time aimed at cre­at­ing an anti-EU, far-right polit­i­cal pow­er­house in Brus­sels.” He added that “it is a pity that MCC has become a tool in this.” Katal­in Cseh, a mem­ber of Hungary’s oppo­si­tion Momen­tum par­ty, also joined the cho­rus of crit­i­cism. She said Fidesz has invest­ed a lot in cre­at­ing an “alt-right intel­lec­tu­al uni­verse around their poli­cies,” with a range of “Trumpian Amer­i­can celebri­ties” com­ing to Budapest — plus a spe­cial ses­sion of the Unit­ed States’ Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC) being host­ed in the Hun­gar­i­an cap­i­tal ear­li­er this year.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on the stand­ing ova­tion received by Orbán at the August CPAC con­fer­ence in Dal­las, Texas.

A GIOR report on the Glob­al Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive alliance explained the role of the MCC in the Orbán gov­ern­men­t’s strug­gle to con­trol Hun­gar­i­an high­er edu­ca­tion and to cre­ate a plat­form for rightwing fig­ures. The report also detailed the poten­tial role of the Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tives in Russ­ian influ­ence operations:

The MATHIAS CORVINUS COLLEGIUM, a Hun­gar­i­an edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ty, is a key part of the ORBÁN government’s strug­gle to con­trol Hun­gar­i­an high­er edu­ca­tion and is the cen­ter of Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive activ­i­ty in the coun­try. This facil­i­ty, fund­ed by a mas­sive gift of stock from the ORBÁN gov­ern­ment, has spon­sored events and teach­ing posi­tions for promi­nent US right-wing fig­ures. Rus­sia has already begun to employ Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive themes in its influ­ence oper­a­tions which will like­ly find a more recep­tive West­ern audi­ence than in the past. Hun­gary is par­tic­u­lar­ly fer­tile ground for Russ­ian exploita­tion of Nation­al Con­ser­vatism giv­en the exist­ing close rela­tion­ship between Russ­ian and Hun­gar­i­an elites and an exten­sive pre-exist­ing Russ­ian influ­ence network.

Read the full report here

The GIOR report­ed last week that the MCC Brus­sels cen­ter direc­tor Frank Fure­di is a con­trib­u­tor to RT, the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da out­let. We also report­ed on the role played by the MCC in dis­sem­i­nat­ing Russ­ian-style anti-LGBTQ pro­pa­gan­da and its use of for­eign West­ern “experts” in that effort.


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