Journalists found out what is happening inside Viktor Orbán's $1 billion Academy of Nationalists of Tomorrow.

Bloomberg writes about it.

"Budapest College has become a powerful tool for the populist Hungarian leader to export his worldview," the media reported.

A former four-star hotel in the leafy 11th district of Budapest, Mathias Corvinus Collegium invites young people into the relative world of luxury.

Its headquarters are a 20-minute walk up the Danube River, with access to a spa and training pods overlooking the park with a pond of ducks. Students can view workshops ranging from digital transformation to modernism in architecture. They can take a walk in a café named after the conservative English philosopher Roger Scruton, or sign up for study trips to the UK and Ireland.

An educational institution is not a typical institution in a country where power is centered around one person and their view of the world.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his government have endowed the college with more than $1 billion to educate Hungary's future leaders. Backed by money comparable to the rest of the country's combined higher education budget, the college has become a training ground for the next generation of Orbán's followers to ensure the replenishment and export of nationalist forces sympathetic to his "illiberal democracy."

It also has branches and partnerships in Brussels, Berlin, and the United Kingdom, and plans to build a much more luxurious building on top of the mountain near its current headquarters.

It hosts events with speakers, including former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, who shared some of Orban's criticism of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine. Recently, former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Orban's anti-immigration ally who was accused of giving false testimony in a corruption investigation, was honored as a celebrity at an event in Budapest in November.

The institution's board of trustees is chaired by Balázs Orbán, a close aide to the Hungarian prime minister, although not affiliated with him. The college describes itself as "independent but not values-neutral," and its main mission is to develop talent rather than impose any ideology, according to its leadership.

"It's not about predominantly Hungarian soft power," Balázs Orbán said on the sidelines of an event in Paris this month. "It's about my students. I am responsible for the new generation of Hungarians," he said.

The college offers co-curricular activities for students from other schools and universities to improve their language, writing, and communication skills, which are often problematic points in the conventional memorization-oriented learning system.

With courses ranging from economics to psychology, it covers the entry level all the way to mentorship and research support for doctoral students, mostly in the humanities.

However, this is not an ordinary institution. After humble beginnings as a small academy founded in the 1990s, it has emerged as Orbán's key lever of influence on education, backed by enormous financial power.

An asset injection by the government in 2020 meant that the college received a 10% stake in the Mol Nyrt. refinery, as well as drug maker Gedeon Richter Nyrt., linked as the largest owner in each with a different educational background. These two companies make up about half of Hungary's stock market index.

The school also boasts top-notch properties throughout Hungary and a majority stake in Libri, a bookseller that has sparked controversy by wrapping some books in plastic foil. The company complied with a law imposed by the government that restricts the marketing of material that could be considered promoting homosexuality or gender reassignment to minors.

Orbán's leadership has poured "extraordinary" sums of money into the college to help cultivate a circle of intellectuals who will help his Fidesz party hold on to power at home and expand its influence abroad, said Daniel Hegedus, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund for Central Europe.

For example, the institution publishes research on things like the European Union's relationship with LGBTQ groups that have been attacked in Orbán's Hungary. One report claims that the EU has evolved into a "supranational LGBTQ advocacy group" so that the bloc can gain "moral authority." The institution's CEO, Zoltán Szalai, is also the editor-in-chief of the Mandiner news site, which promotes Orbán's views.

"This is part of the Fidesz propaganda machine," said Hegedus, who lives in Berlin. "Orbán would like to create such an organic intelligence or network of public intellectuals in Hungary, primarily for the sake of the stability of the regime."

To recap, Viktor Orbán proposes not to bring up the issue of Ukraine's accession to the EU at the summit in December. He repeated Russian narratives that the European Union should support Kyiv not in war, but in the pursuit of peace. According to him, Ukraine's membership in the EU "today does not coincide with the national interests of Hungary."

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