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A Russian Spy in Brussels?

The Case of “KGBéla” -- and What It Means for Europe

A security camera in London, 2006. Luke MacGregor / Reuters

Earlier this week, as Europe was preparing for continent-wide parliamentary elections that delivered 25 percent of the seats to the anti–European Union populist right and left, Hungary was busy asking the EU Parliament to revoke diplomatic immunity for Béla Kovács, a prominent representative of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, in order to charge him with spying on the EU for Russia. Kovács is also accused of channeling Russian funds to support the establishment of Jobbik, which burst on the Hungarian political scene in 2009 with a suspiciously well-financed campaign for the EU Parliament. 

The charges were inflammatory, although perhaps not surprising. In the run-up to this month’s election, Russia is known to have supported anti-EU parties on the far right and far left in an attempt to influence and even undermine the union. One of those parties is Jobbik, which is Hungary’s second-largest party, and whose

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