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Érpatak: Radical mayor tries to set an iconic public security model

East-Hungarian village of Érpatak, home of 1800 residents evokes World War II hungarist era in the last 3 years. Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz rules the village since 2009 and became famous for his public security model, which he thinks could be exemplary for the whole country. The mayor was leading Érpatak illegitimately in the first year in case of being convicted for common crime. He caught media attention many times by inviting far-right militarist groups to official events, but his ‘work’ is still out of governmental institutions focus.

The ‘model of Érpatak’ is based on ‘changing blood-criminals behaviour’ by strict laws, constant control and denying social benefits in case of not ‘standing in the line’. But Orosz also drew the line far beyond this: ‘criminals should be placed in Siberian prisons until we don’t reintroduce death-penalty.’ The mayor’s practice, which critiques call humiliating and illegal, is now set in dozens of Hungarian towns and villages and it made him quite popular on the far-right.

Although rightist websites usually call the ’model of Érpatak’ a viable solution against crime, some say it is not more than a hype. ’My biggest problem with the model of Érpatak that it’s not true’ – says Zoltán Orgován, president of the local Roma Municipality since 20 years. ’The mayor refuses to obtain documents about the village’s economic management but he collects signatures on blank papers and then writes on it whatever he wants. If you don’t sign it you get disqualified from public works and social benefits’ – Orgován says.

The mayor also applies the village’s field ranger to photograph house-fronts to see which families should get penalties for not keeping in the right order. Moreover the field ranger could not be hired by the municipality because his criminal record is not clear. Local forest owners appealed for this to the county’s government office last May, but they got no response. By the way, under-secretary of agriculture and ex- accountability commissioner Gyula Budai called Orosz his friend when he was answered about the processes being under way in his election district.

Zoltán Mihály Orosz, who used to be a teacher of mathematics and physics, also approaches metaphysical levels. To strengthen his ’public life clearing battle’, Orosz founded a church and two orders of knighthood, each of them called: Church of Sophia Perennis, Order of the Heart of the Sun and Contemplating Order of the Eye of the Heart. Two months ago Orosz started to call himself a doctor. He says he learned to years to get doctorate on his own church’s theological training.

In the last years the mayor became a celebrity in the right-wing media, his practices appear as a role model for villages suffering from deep poverty and serious criminality. In the mean time, official website of Érpatak became a propaganda site of Orosz’s public safety model and his far-right ideas. Since two-years Orosz’s been organizing commemoration events for the breakout of Hungarian and German soldiers from the Buda Castle in 1944. The venue of this event is the primary school of Érpatak where he invites militarist neonazi-sponsored group Hungarian National Frontline to praise war-criminal Ferenc Szalasi, leader of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Party.

We asked government representatives if they found these processes worrying but we got evasive answers. Győző Vinnai Dr, governmental representative claimed ‘it is out his competence’ to measure if any illegal actions happened on the commemorations, and municipalities are free to edit their own websites until the law is not harmed. Zsolt Zsíros Dr, public prosecutor of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county in reference to Hungarian National Frontline’s presence on an official event claimed his office has no right to control unregistered organizations. They also rejected responsibility in the case of how Orosz could avoid dispossession in 2010 due to his criminal record.

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