MCC acquires Hungary's largest publishing house

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Authors leave Libri as MCC acquires the publishing company

The subsidiary of the government-funded Mathias Corvinus Collegium Foundation (MCC) has signed a contract with SQ Invest Kft. for the sale of a 67.48 percent stake in the Libri Group. With this transaction, MCC, previously an indirect minority shareholder, will become the 98.41% owner of the leading player in the Hungarian book trade and publishing market. Libri accounts for nearly half of the Hungarian book trade market and nearly a fifth of the publishing market.

According to the government-adjacent Hungarian Writers’ Association's social media, „MCC becoming the majority shareholder in the Libri Group could contribute to a more balanced market operation". However, several authors terminated their contracts with Libri after the move fearing the Orban government would use the publishing house for their "own ideological and political purposes." The complete takeover is expected to be finalized by the end of June.

Russian spy who was expelled from Slovakia last year was allowed to operate freely in Hungary for several years

A Russian diplomat who allegedly established links with Hungarian extremist groups in the 2010s was transferred to Slovakia in 2019 - and expelled in 2022 after the escalation of the war in Ukraine, VSquare reports.

Last year in March, dozens of diplomats and staff left the Russian embassy in Bratislava, but according to the investigative site's report, many Russian spies working under diplomatic cover were also expelled from NATO and EU member states during this period. VSquare identified Anton Gorjev, who worked in Hungary for nearly eight years and was known to the Hungarian government as an "identified intelligence officer".

The fact that the intelligence officer was transferred from Hungary to Slovakia raises several questions. Ferenc Katrein says, former operations director of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, says cross-border activity by Russian spies is common. According to Katerin, Goriev's activities may have damaged Slovakia's national security interests.

Eleven Transcarpathian prisoners of war arrived in Hungary with the government's approval, FM says

The Russian Orthodox Church announced on 8 June that it had handed over several Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary. The following day, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén confirmed the transfer of 11 prisoners of war born in Transcarpathia to Hungary

"I would like to make it clear once again that there was a contact between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Hungarian Maltese Charity Service, as a result of which eleven former prisoners of war arrived in Hungary. We did not oppose this, of course, why would we have?", Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó told ATV, somewhat contradicting the earlier official position, in which the Hungarian government denied any involvement in the prisoner exchange.

Hungary votes in favor of EU sanctions against Russia

EU ambassadors voted in favor of the 11th sanctions package against Russia, the Swedish government, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, announced.

This means the Hungarian government voted for the sanctions again despite previously threatening not to vote, as long as OTP Bank (the largest commercial bank in Hungary) was on the blacklist of the Ukrainian anti-corruption authority. The Ukrainian authorities have temporarily removed five Greek companies from the list, while OTP remains on the list. OTP Bank, which serves over 2.4 million clients in Russia.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed the vote on the sanctions package on Twitter. She wrote that by further tightening export rules, the package is another blow to Putin's war machine. The new rules will prevent Russia from bypassing sanctions and obtaining crucial equipment, parts, and other goods through third countries.