Washington tries to check Hungary's drift into Kremlin orbit
* MOL may sell stake in Croatia energy firm to Russian buyer
* U.S. officials lobbying to stop sale happening
* Washington imposed visa ban on six Hungarians
* Hungary pulled out of Western drive to give Ukraine gas
By Zoran Radosavljevic and Krizstina Than
ZAGREB/BUDAPEST, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The United States is mounting a diplomatic offensive to stop Hungary selling a stake in a Croatian energy firm to Russia, part of what Western powers see as Budapest's dangerous drift into Moscow's orbit.
The U.S. government has already taken the highly unusual step of blacklisting six people with ties to the government in Hungary, a NATO ally and European Union member, from entering the United States, accusing them of involvement in corruption.
U.S. officials say that demarche was the result of growing exasperation with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has pushed judges into retirement, imposed heavy levies on foreign banks, and this week sparked huge protests with a proposal to tax Internet use.
But Washington is particularly preoccupied about a growing closeness between Hungary and the Kremlin over energy that could undermine Western attempts to isolate Russian leader Vladimir Putin over his intervention in Ukraine. Continuación...