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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during his annual news conference in Budapest, Hungary, on Dec. 21, 2023. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party Fidesz is Google’s biggest advertiser in the EU, promoting anti-Western disinformation narratives in the lead-up to the European elections, Ukrainian media outlet European Pravda reported on June 9, citing a report from the independent analytical center Political Capital.

According to the report, Fidesz and its politicians spent 2 million euros ($2.2 million) between Dec. 31, 2023 and June 1, 2024. In contrast, all 14 Hungarian opposition parties spent 764,558 euros ($827,000) combined.

Pro-Orban third parties, including two government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs), spent 2.3 million euros ($2.5 million) while opposition proxies only spent 74,530 euros ($80,600).

Advertising spending by government-controlled media tallied 1.8 million euros ($1.9 million), although the report notes that this was not exclusively on political issues. Independent media costs only came to 46,648 euros ($50,500).

Fidesz topped Google’s biggest advertiser in the EU and paid for six of the 10 most promoted videos, according to the report.

“The level of online political advertising spending in Hungary is outstanding even by European standards,” Political Capital said.

The report noted that Fidesz’s campaign spread anti-Western and pro-Kremlin disinformation, describing the party’s MPs as “soft-defenders” of Russia.

Notably, Fidesz’s advertising spread a hostile narrative against opposition star Peter Magyar, leader of the TISZA party, and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Spending costs on hostile narratives made up 98.6% of the 2 million euro budget, according to the report.

While narratives against Magyar led the propaganda campaign, accounting for 46% of the total costs, disinformation about Ukraine took second place with 34% of the budget.

In the lead-up to the elections, one of the most prominent narratives claimed that “European pro-war politicians and their Hungarian servants want to start World War III.”

The narrative echoes sentiments from Fidesz politicians, including Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who said on March 25 that peace talks need to begin soon because the war "brings the nightmare of a third world war closer.”

On June 6, Orban claimed that Ukraine views the “escalation of the war” as “logical” during an interview with Hungarian media Mandiner. He alleged that Ukrainians want to drag the EU and the rest of the world into war.

Szijjarto announced in Russia's St. Petersburg on June 6 that Hungary will join the Swiss peace summit on June 15-16, having previously been hesitant due to Russia’s absence from the talks.

Orban previously expressed support for the Chinese peace plan on May 9. Most Western leaders dismissed the proposal saying that it favors Russia.

"Today, Europe is on the side of war," Orban said during a joint press conference with President Xi. "The only exception is Hungary, which calls for an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations and supports all international efforts that point towards peace.”

Orban is seen as Moscow’s main ally in the EU. Hungary has repeatedly blocked aid for Ukraine, and spoken against Kyiv’s NATO and EU accession.

FT: Hungary holding up EU’s use of frozen Russian assets for Ukrainian defense
Hungary is holding up legislation that would allow the European Union to send billions of dollars in profits from frozen Russian assets for Ukrainian aid, according to a report by the Financial Times.
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