Ghaith Pharaon sought Hungarian citizenship in 2016

An official document shows that Saudi billionaire Ghaith Pharaon officially requested Hungarian citizenship in February 2016, writes Index. However, the Office of Immigration and Citizenship (BÁH) stated that it had no record of this request in its files.

Pharaon, who was wanted by the American FBI for 25 years for suspicion of financing terrorism and money laundering, gained notoriety when he purchased the land and villa opposite Prime Minister Orbán’s own house in October 2016.

Index notes that Pharaon may have even been granted Hungarian citizenship, although Interior Minister Sándor Pintér declined to discuss the issue further to independent Parliamentary representative Márta Demeter, as Pharaon died in January of this year.

Poll: Budapest residents want a left-wing government

MNO: A poll of Budapest residents commissioned by the Republikon Institute shows that 35% of respondents in the capital prefer a left-wing, liberal government in the next elections. The governing party Fidesz received 27% support, while 11% supported Jobbik and 26% of respondents either did not know or did not wish to answer the question.

However, a breakdown of party preferences showed that support for the left-wing vote was split among MSZP and several other smaller parties.

Orbán receives Netanyahu and admits “crime” in not protecting Jews in WWII

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán received visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Budapest today, and at a joint news conference Orbán claimed that Hungary has “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism.

At the same conference, the Hungarian Prime Minister stated that “Hungary committed a crime when it did not protect its Jewish citizens,” according to 24.hu. As a sitting Israeli Prime Minister had not visited Hungary in nearly 30 years, Orbán claimed that Netanyahu’s visit would “open a new chapter in relations” between the two nations.

Orbán also added that “Hungary does not want to change its ethnic makeup, even if we have to admit that we are not perfect.”

Csongrád County may change its name

The Csongrád County Assembly has voted to change the name of the county to Csongrád-Csanád County, writes HVG. The name change was apparently suggested by János Lázár, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, and could take effect in the fall. Likewise, Nógrád County may also change its name to Nógrád-Hont County.

Mysterious anti-government messages appear in Budapest

Curious anti-government messages popped up on advertising pillars around Budapest today, notes HVG. The messages were printed with black text on a white background, stating only: “The people can not be banned, but the government can be replaced.”

There was no other indication of who or what organization was behind the messaging, suggesting that they have been designed to attempt to get around the government’s recent law against billboards with political themes.

anti-government pillar

The news source speculates that the Jobbik party is behind the move, but when they inquired as to the source of the message from the Mahir advertising agency as to the source of the messages, they were informed that it was simply a “commission from a private customer with a public service message.”

A representative from Jobbik denied that the party was involved with this campaign, but that the party “identified 100%” with its message. Mahir is part of the portfolio of media magnate and former Fidesz treasurer Lajos Simicska, now a fierce critic of the government.

Fierce critic of Soros has taken money from him

Magyar Nemzet is reporting that a family foundation associated with István Hollik, a Parliamentary representative for the ruling the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), has accepted money from the Soros Foundation despite Hollik’s vehement opposition to the activities of the foreign financier.

According to the news source, Hollik’s mother founded an organization in 1995 dealing with hospice and mental hygiene activities, then later received a donation of 50,000 HUF (US $189) from the namesake foundation of Hungarian-born George Soros in 1998.

In his response to the story, Hollik acknowledged the payment, but claimed that the donation from Soros was a tiny amount compared to the large amount the billionaire spends on issues he opposes. He did not respond when asked if the funds from the Soros Foundation would be returned.

Orbán encourages Hungarian citizens in neighboring countries to vote next year

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has sent a letter to Hungarians with dual citizenship outside of the country’s borders to encourage them to vote in next year’s elections, reports 24.hu, which has a copy of one of the letters. In the letter, Orbán reminds these voters that it was his government that granted them dual citizenship seven years ago.

Index points out that in the 2014 elections, 95% of the eligible votes cast by Hungarians abroad went to Orbán’s Fidesz, so it is in the party’s interest that as many of them vote as possible.

Timmermans rejects Orbán’s claims that the EU is doing Soros’ bidding

Index is reporting that Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, thinks that it is ridiculous to even have to respond to Prime Minister Orbán’s criticism of the EU as a stooge of billionaire George Soros, and that the organization wants to bring 1 million migrants into Europe annually. Orbán made his comments a week and a half ago during an interview on Hungarian public radio.

Timmermans denied that the European Union was “carrying out the plans of Mr. Soros or anyone else.”

Netanyahu arrives in Budapest with criticism from Hungarian Jewish group

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Budapest around 6:00pm today for a three-day visit, the first time a sitting Israeli leader has come to Hungary since 1989, reports HVG.

A few hours before his arrival, András Heisler, the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz), Hungary’s largest Jewish association, gave an interview to the AP in which he expressed his disappointment with the Israeli government’s shifting position on Hungary’s billboard campaign against billionaire George Soros, which it claimed was anti-Semitic.

“On July 8 the Israeli ambassador to Hungary called for an end to the anti-Soros billboards and posters, but a day later the Israeli foreign ministry issued a ‘clarification’ noting that while it deplored ‘any expression of anti-Semitism,’ it did not seek to ‘delegitimize’ criticism of Soros, a Budapest-born Holocaust survivor, accusing him of ‘continuously undermining’ Israel’s governments.”

According to Heisler, “The Israeli foreign ministry’s clarification … in part surprised us and in part was hugely disappointing.”

Macron coming to Budapest

HVG reports that French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Budapest for a state visit sometime this year, although a date has not yet been set.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke of Macron’s visit during the most recent EU summit in Brussels in late June, and the French Embassy confirmed it at a reception on July 14.