Hungarian PM met anti-Soros DC lobbyists
The Hungarian government might be getting help in their anti-Soros rhetoric. Morris Reid of US lobbying firm Mercury LLC and David Zaikin met the Hungarian prime minister’s staff at the end of June in Budapest. PM Orban Viktor also participated in the meeting for a short time, Atlatszo.hu was told by a person briefed on the meeting.
Recent articles by Politico and Pro Publica identify Ukranian born businessman Dmitri ‘David’ Zaikin as the person who links pro-Kremlin parties in Eastern Europe with lobbyists in the United States to help them in Washington, DC. He facilitated deals in Turkey and Albania as well.
According to Pro Publica, Zaikin facilitated lobbying and political consulting deals for the Macedonian political party VMRO-DPMNE, a party whose rhetoric lately has been centered on Hungarian born billionaire and philanthropist George Soros and the NGOs he finances. The nationalist former Macedonian governing party was the one that set up the first ‘Stop Operation Soros’ organization. In March a meeting of European populist parties was held in Budapest; the participants adopted the name ‘Stop Operation Soros’ for themselves.
According to an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project VMRO-DPMNE, helped by Mercury LLC lobbyists, convinced American congressmen to sign anti-Soros letters. They used these back in Macedonia as proof that their anti-Soros efforts have American political support.
According to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Morris L. Reid is on of the partners at Mercury who worked on the Macedonia case. Officially he did work for Libertas Foundation, an organization that has a a $15,000-a-month contract for “Governmental, external and public affairs specific and/or individualized to Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Greece.”
On the frontlines of the anti-Soros battle
Any help with the anti-Soros rhetoric and how to sell that in the United States is most probably welcome in Hungarian government circles. PM Orban and his government has been using Soros and the organizations financed by him as scapegoats for practically any problems in the country. Last months the country was flooded with advertisements and billboards featuring the American investors face, saying ‘Do not let Soros have the last laugh!’ The ubiquitous billboard campaign was widely criticised for evoking anti-Semitic sentiments.
We reached out for comments to Mercury, the PM’s office and also to the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister. The latter was charged with overseeing Hungary’s lobbying efforts until this spring when it was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Out of the three, only the Cabinet Office answered, saying they ‘have not heard of the meeting and do not plan to sign a contract with Mercury.’
Atlatszo.hu found the hotel in Budapest where Reid and Zaikin stayed and managed to confirm that they stayed there between 26 and 30 June.
Hungary already has an anti-Soros voice in DC
Hungary has a lobbyist in DC right now: in 2014 the government hired former Republican congressman Connie Mack IV. The contract’s value is USD 5 million for four years. A third of that money goes to the Hungarian partner in the consortium, a pro-government think tank called Századvég.
Mack has been doing the job of spreading the anti-Soros propaganda in DC: according to his latest filings with the DOJ, he used the newsletter he regularly sends out to his contacts to notify them that even Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is agreeing with Orban’s Soros-bashing.
Written by Anita Komuves
The original, Hungarian-language story can be reached here.