The United for Hungary movement held a demonstration in front of the Russian embassy in Budapest under the motto “Against Putin, for Ukraine” late on Thursday. According to Telex, thousands took part in the demonstration, waving Ukrainian, Hungarian, and European Union flags. Public figures and representatives from the opposition spoke up on the war currently raging in Ukraine.
The crowd could be heard chanting “ruszkik haza, ruszkik haza! (Russians go home!)” the motto heard by Hungarians during the fight against Soviet rule in the Revolution of 1956.
Fact Ukrainians living in Hungary also held a separate demonstration in front of the Russian embassy earlier on Thursday, calling for an end to Russian military aggression. The building was blocked off before either protest had began, and a large police presence was set up at the corners of Lendvay street and Bajza street.
Public Figures Speak Out in Support of Ukraine
Zsolt Osváth, an online influencer, was the first to speak at the event, saying, “the war is right here beside us, 200 kilometers away, in a place where Hungarian-speakers live as well.” According to Osváth, over the past few weeks pro-government media has been adament that there would be no war.
László Józan, an actor born and raised in Kárpátalja (Zakarpattia) brought up that during his childhood, there was nothing but peace. He learned that peace and calm need to be respected, along with the diversity of people with various nationalities and cultures.
I am worried about my family, my relatives, my friends. I am worried about the beautiful place where I spent my childhood. I stand in solidarity with every person living on Ukrainian territory,”
Opposition Representatives Denounce Putin and Orbán
Ágnes Vádai, deputy leader of the Democratic Coalition, said that the government “should bear in mind that Hungarians stand for peace and Europe.”
This is the true face of Putin, and the same power which Viktor Orbán has been rubbing up to for the past 10 years,”
LMP co-leader Máté Kanász-Nagy said it was “shameful” that, although the prime minister had condemned the Russian attack, Orbán also voiced support for “continuing business with Putin.” The Paks nuclear power plant upgrade project “should not be revised but dropped,” he insisted. “Hungary will only be independent once we’re no longer dependent on an aggressive, warmongering dictator,” he said, adding that the opposition would replace “the dictator’s buddy,” on April 3.
Socialist co-leader Ágnes Kunhalmi said both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Orbán were “unreliable,” and insisted that a government change in Hungary would “benefit the whole of the EU.”
Jobbik deputy leader László Lukács said that
Hungarians, Europe, and the sane half of the world support peace and will continue to do so.”
He added that protesters had gathered for the sake of peace, to send a clear message that peace is the only way to protect Hungarians both at home and abroad.
Momentum head Anna Donáth also slammed Orbán for “making friends and doing business with eastern dictatorships for 12 years.” “There will be no unity in Europe as long as Orbán is in government,” she added. Donáth noted that her generation had grown up in times of peace, and thus far it had been unimaginable that war could break out in a neighboring country.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, co-leader of Parbeszéd, said “we are not protesting against the Russian people but Russia’s dictator.” He accused the Hungarian prime minister of “contributing to the oiling of the power machinery now occupying Ukraine for the past 12 years.”
“The Orbán government is not a tool for peace in Europe but an obstacle,” Karácsony said.
Márki-Zay: Hungary Must Support Sanctions Against Russia
Péter Márki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate of the united opposition, was the last to speak at the event. He emphasized that this is the first war between sovereign nations since World War Two, and called on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to drop his “see-saw policy.”
The prime ministerial candidate said the the European Union and NATO are the only ways for Hungary to ensure peace and independence at a time when “Putin is attempting to build up a new Soviet Union.”
Márki-Zay said Hungary should fully support the European Union’s sanctions against Russia.
He also demanded that the government should suspend the licensing procedure of the project to expand the Paks nuclear power plant and expel the International Investment Bank, which he called the “Russian spy bank.”
In addition, the politician called on Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó to return an award recently received “for serving Russian interests.”
Hungary’s place has been in western Europe, with Christian roots, since King Saint Stephen; the West is our ally, and we are members of NATO and the European Union.”
At the end of his speech, Márki-Zay called on the crowd to join him in prayer. Before closing the speech, an individual sang the Ukrainian anthem, after which the crowd sang the Hungarian anthem.
Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
Katalin Lukácsi for Everyone’s Hungary suggested that those with Ukrainian or EU flags could leave them in front of Fidesz’s headquarters to send a message, but it turns out that the location had been blocked off by police.
In the featured photo, protesters gather Thursday evening for the opposition’s demonstration against Putin’s war on Ukraine. Featured photo via Péter Márki-Zay’s Facebook page