Orban to visit Putin in Moscow

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Hungarian PM headed to Moscow to hold talks with Putin after meeting Zenelsky

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday. The trip was first reported by investigative reporter Szabolcs Panyi on X and was later confirmed by FT, RFE, and The Guardian.

This visit marks the first time the two leaders will meet in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. Orbán, who has maintained a tight relationship with Moscow compared to other EU leaders, previously visited Russia in 2022 without meeting Putin.

Hungary has recently assumed the rotating Presidency of the European Union, a primarily ceremonial position that involves setting agendas and facilitating legislative agreements. Earlier this week, Orbán visited Kyiv, where he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to consider a ceasefire to seek an end to the war with Russia.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, responded to Orbán's planned visit to Moscow on social media platform X, clarifying that the EU rotating presidency does not have a mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU. "No discussions about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine," he asserted.

Hungary's new Sovereignty Protection Office targets anti-corruption group and investigative outlet

Hungary’s newly formed Sovereignty Protection Office (SPO) has started an investigation into Transparency International’s  Hungarian branch and investigative outlet, Átlátszó. Last week, Transparency was officially informed of a “specific investigation” involving 62 questions concerning its operations. The SPO alleges that Transparency is involved in activities funded by “subsidies from abroad” which purportedly influence voters’ decisions.

Átlátszó received a similar notification, with the SPO highlighting that the organization is “foreign-subsidized” with much of its budget sourced from abroad. The inquiry, consisting of 11 questions, also demands detailed explanations of Átlátszó’s cooperation with Transparency. Known for exposing alleged government corruption, Átlátszó’s executive director, Tamás Bodoky, described the probe as a “Russian-style, Putin-recipe action” aimed at silencing critics.

The ruling Fidesz party in the Hungarian parliament passed the Law on the Protection of National Sovereignty in December 2023. Transparency condemned the investigation, claiming it seeks to intimidate dissenting citizens and organizations disguised as protecting national sovereignty. The European Commission initiated infringement proceedings against Hungary over the law in February 2024.

Poland's Law and Justice chose Meloni's group over Orban's

The Giorgia Meloni-dominated EP Group, the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), elected Joachim Stanisław Brudziński, a Polish member of the Law and Justice group, as its vice-president at its inaugural meeting, HVG reports. This means that the former Polish ruling party will remain in the ECR and, contrary to expectations, will not move to the Orbáns' new group, the Patriots, although it had been rumored earlier where they would be heading.'

In Vienna on Sunday, Herbert Kickl, president of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, president of the ANO party, and Orbán announced that they would form a new European party alliance called Patriots for Europe and were expecting more MEPs to join to form an independent group in the European Parliament. This would require twenty-three MEPs from seven countries.

Orbán announces new far-right party alliance in Vienna

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO), Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party, and the populist Czech ANO party headed by Andrej Babis are joining forces to form a new alliance within the European Parliament.

“We take on the responsibility to launch this new platform and new faction. I want to make it clear that this is our goal,” Orban declared at a joint press conference with Herbert Kickl and Babis, urging other parties to support their cause. The new coalition, named “Patriots for Europe”, will need the backing of parties from at least four countries to be officially recognized in the European Parliament, where far-right groups have been gaining ground.

“A new era begins here, and the first, perhaps decisive moment of this new era is the creation of a new European political faction that will change European politics,” Orban stated.

The three leaders signed a “patriotic manifesto” pledging “peace, security and development” as opposed to the “war, migration and stagnation” attributed to the “Brussels elite,” according to Orban.