Russian Propaganda Connections
Writing and dispensing Russian propaganda is coordinated through a centralised system, every element of it connects to the Kremlin’s policies and rhetoric consistently.
The phenomenon is not new, they widely used similar tools in the Soviet Union as well. The fake news stories are usually generated by unrecognisable fake websites using anonymous sources with the hope that they make their way into mainstream media.
To Moscow it does not matter whether the sites serving their interests are operated by their own men, or “useful idiots”, actually it is exactly anonymity that allows them to infiltrate web pages.
In Hungary, there are various propaganda sits that are undoubtedly controlled by Moscow, including the portal Hidfő, which now runs under a Russian domain, established by Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal (Hungarian National Front, MNA), the organisation of the murderer of a policeman, István Győrkös. Győrkös had an active relationship with the undercover agents of Russian military intelligence.
After it was founded, the Hungarian news website MNA-run Hidfő posted extremist content. Then, Győrkös handed the site over to the Russians, who changed the website’s profile and today it explicitly focuses on disseminating Russian propaganda. Later it was revealed that a “journalist” of the site with deep knowledge of military affairs met Jobbik’s Márton Gyöngyösi twice.
Former editors of We stand with Russia say they had no connections to Hidfő and Győrkös, but one former administrator claimed once an individual joined the team of editors who was openly a Hungarist (Hungarian neo-Nazi) and claimed he was in contact with MNA.
However, it was unclear which branch of the MNA the Hungarist belonged to, as the organisation split up in 2012. Moreover, a Russian man living in Hungary, KS also appeared among the site’s admins. When we investigated KS's background it was found that the person is described even by his friends as having a fierce temper and he was previously convicted of vandalism by a Hungarian court.
Ernő told Index they themselves never tried to establish contacts with Russian diplomats. “One leftist editor wanted to coordinate with the Russians in one concrete case, but the majority voted against it, thus no Russian connection was established. We were really cautious not to turn the site into someone’s playground”, he claimed.
Contrary to this, another former editor who holds far-left views recalls the events completely differently. His story is that the editors wanted to establish a news site, but the plan did not come to fruition.
Ernő admits that “the establishment of a news site came up several times” among the editors, but “this did not have anything to do with the Russians either”.
According to a former admin, Russian diplomats did not take the Facebook page seriously. He recalled an occasion when he spoke to Russians during a wreath laying ceremony. He mentioned to Russian diplomats that they could give the Facebook page an interview, but he was politely rejected because they would only give an interview to a news site, not to a Facebook page.
Although the majority of the page’s editors, writers are in their 20s, there is an older ex-diplomat in their ranks as well: Sándor Csikós, who translated most of the Russian-language content of the We stand with Russia site. Csikós was bought into the team by the anti-fascist, leftist Máté Kocsis. Later the ex-diplomat was inactive for a short period, then he returned only to leave the team recently.
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