There is a proliferation of U.S.-funded, supposedly free journalism organizations and training courses linked to various left-wing opposition newspapers in Hungary, according to the Hungarian civil rights group, Tűzfalcsoprt (Firewall Group).
One of the largest foreign-funded press outlets — news portal Telex — has recently announced that it is launching a training program funded by the U.S. government called Telex Academy, to supposedly train young people and teachers in independent, objective journalism. The Telex Academy project is led by three Hungarian journalists who all work for opposition media.
According to a report from Magyar Nemzet, the Hungarian public has been shocked by the level of U.S. support, which shows signs of “open interference.” The news outlet notes that the U.S. is arguably the world’s leading power, and with its ample resources is currently engaged in a massive cultural, economic and political influence operation in Hungary. This operation involves donating millions to various opposition efforts, which now includes hundreds of thousands of dollars to a left-liberal newspaper, Telex, which the paper notes is completely at odds with Hungarian national values and interests.
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However, given the hostility of the Biden administration towards Hungary, it is perhaps unsurprising these left-wing campaigns and media outlets are financed by the U.S. As Remix News previously reported, millions of dollars were funneled into Hungary to influence the April election last year, which Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party won by a landslide.
While the web of supporting organizations has not yet been fully untangled, Hungarian domestic intelligence agencies have already determined that NGOs funded by billionaire oligarch George Soros along with U.S. state and state-linked organizations were involved in funding the opposition’s election campaign. This information was included in the report of the Hungarian domestic intelligence agency, the National Information Center, which was submitted to Hungary’s parliament on Jan. 20, 2023.
The report concluded that during the 2022 election campaign, the U.S.-based group Action for Democracy sponsored the Hungarian political movement “Mindenki Magyarországa.” The organization was acting as a front for Hungarian opposition parties and an NGO, which received a total of over 3 billion forints (€8.4 million) from Western sources.
The U.S. may have failed to stop Orbán from returning to power, but it has now ramped up its media operation in Hungary to counter the country’s conservative government.
The Firewall Group’s blog writes that the Telex Academy grew out of an initiative of the New York-based Independent Journalism Foundation (IJF), established by James L. Greenfield. According to the Firewall Group, IJF has 10 main international sponsors, including the Coca-Cola company and the European Union.
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The other donor to the Telex Academy is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is a U.S. government agency whose head, Samantha Power, visited Budapest this February. At her press conference, she said that the U.S. government was devoting the equivalent of 7 billion forints (€18.5 million) to “maintaining democracy” in Central Europe. According to Magyar Nemzet, USAID announced last year that it would support press outlets associated with Hungary opposition with ample funding.
When Power visited Hungary, a meeting was arranged for a small group of Hungarian left-wing media journalists, signaling that the U.S. was fully invested in interfering in Hungary’s domestic media market.
A new color revolution?
Critics of the various U.S. influence operations point out that Democratic Party officials and liberal media outlets made claims that Russia influenced the 2016 U.S. election results, but these claims later turned out to be often unsubstantiated and wildly inaccurate. In contrast, U.S. influence operations are conducted openly and announced on the official U.S. government websites and officials.
Some have taken to labeling U.S. efforts in Hungary as a new attempt at a “color revolution,” which is how Gavin Wax, the president of the New York Young Republicans Club, described the situation while speaking with Hungarian media outlet Magyar Nemzet this week.
He said that color revolutions involving the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regarding “non-allies” has already taken place many times in history, but the influence operations in Hungary in an attempt to remove the government is a new breed of tactic.
“But now (the United States) is meddling in the internal affairs of a country that is a NATO ally of the United States. This is completely wrong. They do not act as diplomats, but ideologically, as activists, because Hungary is not considered an ally in an ideological sense,” Wax said.