Sports journalist had communist past

Hungarian Olympic Committee member and state television and radio sports journalist Zoltan Novotny has been nominated for a Prima Primissima Prize, an award sponsored by Hungary’s two richest men Sándor Csányi and Sándor Demján.

Now an elder at the Protestant church from Deák tér, Novotny has always been an active participant in the community, whatever that community happened to be at the time. A book published in 1979 entitled Sports Reporting Is Our Trade contains an an article in which Novotny writes “I was a pioneer leader and railroad worker and worked at construction camps on several occasions. I was a KISZ propaganda secretary for nine years, then a party officer and am now president of the Hungarian Radio Sports Association. I believe, as do many others, that prizes are usually not given on merit. Despite this, I was flattered to receive the Bronze Medal for Sports Merit in 1971, the Outstanding Youth Leader Award in 1973, and Youth Prize in 1977,” Novotny adds.

All a far cry from Novotny’s current positions as president of the Protestant Journalists’ Association, a post he has held since 2004, and his membership of the Media Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The award’s funders are unlikely to have a problem with his past, however: Demjan was boss of the Skala-Coop trading company and a delegate at the 12th Congress of the Hungarian Communist Party in 1980, while Csányi worked at the Ministry of Finance from 1974-83.

Socialist Party members generally make no secret of their activities during the communist-era, while the intellectuals around the now defunct liberal party SZDSZ were often the offspring of state party officials. However members of the Hungarian right often loudly and proudly assert that they are different, and the revelation of links to the former state party can be particularly embarrassing for those who now espouse conservative and religious views.

Another contributor to that same volume was the current artistic director of the Budapest Artistic Weeks and Open Air Stages festival Gabor Koltay. Now more enamoured with right-wing writer Albert Wass and Hungary’s inter-war leader Miklos Horthy, back then he wrote “We need to transform the talent and dynamism of Hungarian people into creativity. This is in the interests of the whole nation and will be coordinated by the Party, the new Central Committee.”

If you have any information about the former state party involvement of public figures, please do not hesitate to send them to Átlátszó. Newspaper articles, books, internal memos or archive footage all welcome!

Read the original Hungarian language article here.