Russian-Ukrainian war

Orban propagandist who mocked Zelensky, is a frequent guest at Rosatom’s office

Philip Rákay has visited the Budapest office of Rosatom Central Europe s.r.o.’s Hungarian Branch a dozen times, our readers in the area told Átlátszó. The Hungarian branch of the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company rented an office in a condominium building in the 12th district of Budapest, Beethoven Street, between 2016 and 2021. Our readers have seen the pro-government celebrity visiting the building several times, arriving in a variety of luxury cars, including the luxury van already featured by Átlátszó, heading for Rosatom’s offices.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a speech last Friday. The president of the country under attack by Putin’s army listed EU member states, thanking Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia for their support and singling out a few countries for special mention: Germany, Portugal and Ireland, which have delayed taking measures to support Ukraine.

He criticised Hungary, which is the least supportive EU-member of the attacked party, and asked Viktor Orbán to impose sanctions against Russia and to allow the transfer of arms to Ukraine: “You must decide once and for all who you are with,” Zelensky said.

Instead of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, however, Philip Rákay, a pro-government influencer, responded to the Ukrainian president’s plea for help: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself, Zelensky?” – Rákay wrote on his influencer Facebook page, saying that the Ukrainian president “speaks and babbles from American script, like the politicians of the Hungarian left” and “wants to drag our country into his war”.

In connection with Rákay’s Facebook post, Átlátszó readers pointed out that in recent years the celebrity had often been seen in one of Rosatom’s Budapest offices. Between 2016 and 2021, the Russian nuclear energy giant’s branch rented an office in a condominium building in the 12th district, Beethoven Street. Readers have seen the pro-government celebrity visiting the building several times, arriving in a variety of luxury cars, including the luxury van already featured by Átlátszó, and conducting business at the Rosatom office.

State-owned Rosatom is the market leader in nuclear reactor exports, and its expansion serves Russian geopolitical interests. During the war in Ukraine, Rosatom specialists appeared at the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plants occupied by the Russian army and tried to take them over – a move that even the main Hungarian promoter of the Paks2 project, Attila Aszódi, described as unprecedented in world history. But it is not often that an army attacks a nuclear power plant site with heavy weapons, as we have seen it in Zaporizhzhya.

A breach at a Ukrainian NPP could cause radiological contamination in Hungary

Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, ca. 1000 kilometres from the Hungarian border, was taken over by Russian military forces on 4 March. It might seem a far away place, but is it really? Could a potential severe accident in the nuclear power plant and the subsequent increase of radioactivity affect Hungary?

Philip Rákay is an important mouthpiece of Hungarian government propaganda, whose video essays discrediting the opposition were advertised by Megafon, a pro-government social media project for more than 100 million HUF of unknown sources. Philip Rákay’s consulting firm, Norton Consulting Zrt., made a profit of HUF 602 million on a turnover of HUF 818 million in 2018, HUF 416 million on a turnover of HUF 616 million in 2019 and HUF 392 million on a turnover of HUF 540 million in 2020. All this without a website or known customers.

In this house was the Roszatom office, to which Philip Rákay had access

Átlátszó wanted to know whether Philip Rákay has any economic ties with the Russian state-owned Rosatom or its Hungarian subsidiary or branch, or if he visits their Budapest office regularly for any other reason, and if so, whether it is related to his recent outburst against the Ukrainian president. After repeated attempts, the pro-government celebrity did not answer the phone or respond to our questions sent by email.

Written and translated by Tamás Bodoky, the Hungarian version of this story is available here. Cover photo: Philip Rákay is campaigning for János Süli, the minister responsible for the Paks NPP expansion undertaken by Rosatom, in March 2022. Source: Rákay Philip / Facebook

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