GIOR investigation has discovered further background on the role played by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a Hungarian education facility, in disseminating Russian-style anti-LGBTQ propaganda. A March 2022 report by the Hungarian think-tank Political Capital report explains the growing importance of the MCC in anti-gender and anti-LGBTQ mobilization and how foreign conservatives are presented as “renowned foreign experts:”
In the past few years, the anti-gender and anti-LGBTQI mobilisation was not a prominent topic for Mathias Corvinus Collegium, but it recently seems to have gained importance. This can be expected to intensify in the near future, based on the growing number of recently published books on the subject and the potential collaboration with European educational institutions. As mentioned earlier, MCC has relations with international and regional networks. MCC mainly invites international actors either as guest speakers to its events, such as the MCC Feszt (e.g. Tucker Carlson), MCC Budapest Summit (e.g. Paul Coleman, Sophia Kuby, Gladden Pappin, Denis Prager), the lecture series Patriotic Talks (e.g. Jaime Mayor Oreja, Grégor Puppinck, Luca Volonté) and Budapest Lectures (e.g. Marion Maréchal Le Pen) or as guest lecturers (e.g. Francesco Giubilei64), by granting generous fellowships. Hence, these actors are presented as renowned foreign experts. MCC also publishes books on the topic, disseminating them through sponsored advertisements and launching events with the authors…Marion Marechal Le Pen expressed in an interview that she hopes her higher educational institution, Institut des Sciences Sociales, Économiques et Politiques (ISSEP), will build future cooperation with Collegium Intermarium and MCC.
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The report summary further explains that the MCC is one of two leading Hungarian actors making use of US conservatives to support its aims:
Foreign actors and networks give the Hungarian government legitimacy and international recognition, which [the Hungarian ruling paerty] Fidesz can then sell to its domestic audience. In return, foreign allies present Hungary as a legitimising ally to their domestic audiences. The Hungarian government has strategically established connections with conservative US actors to boost its image in the USA and the larger international arena. The leading Hungarian actors with US connections are the Mathias Corvinus Collegium and the Center for Fundamental Rights.
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A GIOR report yesterday identified US academic and MCC guest instructor Peter Boghossian as having given a talk at an MCC facility in Romania. Boghossian is a former Portland State University professor best known not for academic achievements but for his 2018 role in the so-called “Grievance Studies” or “Sokal Squared” hoax. As part of the hoax, Boghossian and two colleagues submitted fake papers to various specialized academic journals to discredit gender and critical race studies. During his talk, Boghossian shared the stage with Botond Csoma. a Romanian MP whose party members sponsored anti-LGBTQ legislation harshly criticized by Romanian civil rights groups, who linked the effort to similar policies adopted by the Hungarian government. Russia passed similar legislation in 2013, and the same critics warned that the bill would “fuel Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns” and reinstate censorship in the former communist country. The Political Capital Report details the continuing role that Russia has on Hungarian LGBTQI narratives and policies:
Russia has had a clear impact on Hungary’s LGBTQI narratives and policies, including providing a model for the “gay propaganda law” passed under the guise of child protection. While direct connections between Fidesz (and its proxies) and the Russian government were remarkably prominent a few years ago, they have become less prevalent, likely due to increased Hungarian-Western relations. The major exception has been strengthening the relationship between the Hungarian government and the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian media also play a key role in lauding PM Orban and his conservative policies.
A GIOR report on the new 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
In September, an Eastern European media source cited the Director of Political Capital who explained the continuing role of Russian influence operations in Hungary:
While many European governments adopted measures aimed at combatting Russian disinformation, Péter Krekkó, Director of Political Capital states that in Hungary, Kremlin narratives and the Hungarian government-controlled information ecosystem cannot be separated: state-linked news, pro-government journalists, and Fidesz-close social media influencers have often cited Russian sources (such as RT and Sputnik) even prior to the war to support the Fidesz government’s anti-liberal, anti-migration, or anti-LGBTQ narratives.
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Earlier this week, we reported that the new Brussels center of the MCC will be co-directed by Frank Furedi, a Hungarian-Canadian academic who is also a contributor to RT, the Russian propaganda outlet.