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Moral regime change cannot be completed until all the Chernobil files have been released. Unfortunately, many of the people referred to in them are still with us. The files should be opened up: Hungarians have the right to know who was responsible for the way in which the world's worst ever nuclear catastrophe was dealt with here in Hungary.

It may seem strange and somewhat morbid that the environmentalist group Vedegylet is seeking to name a street in Paks after Chernobil.

But it is far more grotesque that the Health Ministry's records concerning the accident in 1986 are still inaccessible. The historical review Rubicon has also revealed that the state security archives have similar inaccessible material. It seems that people in charge think Hungarian society has no right to know about government lies and deceptions that followed the Chernobil disaster.

But the people mentioned in those documents are not long-dead Communist officials or Rakosi-era activists, nor senile retired security services officers. Many of them continue to play a role in public life, as ministers and senior civil servants.Some of them are senior party officials who have ordered the media into silence. Others edit sections of newspapers and have, with some notable exceptions, bowed down before this censorship. There are some who work in health and radiation biology centres, who have violated their oaths by keeping silent about the real levels of danger.

Research indicates that there will be a huge jump in the number of cancer cases by the end of this decade as a direct result of Chernobil. Those who failed to tell us what was going on continue to enjoy a sense of moral invulnerability, even the ones who happily sent workers into the vicinity of the active zone. They had people wash down lorries heading towards Austria without wearing protective clothing. During the crisis, the security services and their informers went into overdrive. Anyone who spoke honestly about the growing danger was risking their job and their freedom. Yet a secret central committee report stated: "The level of radiation in the air is many times higher than normal, the radiation level of surface water is five times higher than normal, and that of drinking water twice as high."

Milk was also dangerously radioactive.

With breathtaking cynicism, Janos Berecz, secretary of the Central Committee continues to say: "We were seen with greater respect in the West. They could trust us. We kept our word, keeping them informed, regardless of the differences between our two systems." It is true that for weeks the foreign ministry received no information worth taking seriously from its Soviet sister-state, so it had no information to pass on. Gyula Horn was state secretary at the Foreign Minister. The Central Committee's state secretary for foreign affairs was Matyas Szuros. When he was greeted with rapturous applause at Fidesz's party conference recently, not one of the party's professional anti-communists asked him if he was even slightly ashamed of the role he played back then.

Regime change cannot be said to have been completed until the Chernobil files have been released. We know the accident caused enormous damage. It may also have had at least one positive

consequence: it made it clear that dictatorships should not have access to nuclear power stations, heavy water plants, and uranium-enriching reactors. Because dictatorships have no feel for industrial safety or environmental protection. Political success and megalomaniac plans are always more important to a dictatorship than human lifes.


Tamás Papp László

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What about the next months?

The next few months in Hungarian politics are going to be very interesting. If the coalition wins, then it will have to dig the country out of the hole it spent the last four years leading the country into. If Fidesz loses, the party will face structural and personnel changes. If Ibolya David sticks to her current possition, adopting the role of a constructive opposition, then she will be in a dreadfully lonely position.

HVG English version

Slight advantage for the left

"We have to reach a deal with the MDF at all costs," Viktor Orban was told by several local party leaders, the HVG has learned. Even Viktor Orban himself cannot be allowed to get in the way. The first round of the elections brought the Socialist party and its coalition party a slight advantage.

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Alone or in coalition

Separately or together - this question has defined the relationship between the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and Fidesz over the past four years. Fidesz tried to create a unified right-wing, going as far as to entice politicians away from MDF. But Ibolya David's party was convinced that it could only survive if it remained independent.

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Capital reconstruction

In 1982, I wrote an article commemorating the 75th anniversary of Frigyes Podmaniczky's death, in which I bemoaned the absence of an old-style Metropolitan Works Council (FKT). The article was picked up upon by the leaders of the Metropolitan Council. Three years later, Laszlo Siklossy's outstanding work "How Budapest was built" about the FKT's first sixty years, was reissued. The publisher asked me to write an afterword. When I submitted it, the publisher said: "This is no afterword! This is a manifesto!" I explained this was all I could offer. The book appeared several months later, without my afterword.

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Interview with Balazs Babel

"A Christian who does not vote is a sinner," claims Balazs Babel, Archbishop of Kalocsa-Kecskement. The 56-year-old priest, who does not deny his party bias, believes a good Catholic is a right-wing voter, and only someone who suffers from "an inconquerable ignorance" votes for the Left. Babel also defends the the antisemitic Bishop Ottokar Prohaszka.

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"Everything is in control"

The message from Fidesz headquarters is that Viktor Orban is in control: there is no rival who would even contemplate questioning his leadership. But if, as expected, he loses the elections, he could be vulnerable.

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