Following the prison sentence of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was sent to prison for more than two and a half years on Tuesday, many Hungarian opposition politicians spoke up and condemned the verdict while also criticizing the Orbán government for not commenting on the incident.
Expressing support for Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is a “moral obligation, just like it is an obligation to protect Russian democracy and the freedom of publicity, based on our common European values,” the mayor of Budapest said on Facebook on Wednesday.
“We are witnessing a cowardly attempt to intimidate the critics of the regime and silence the Russian people’s desire for freedom,” he added.
FactAlexei Navalny, leader of opposition ‘Russia of the Future,’ was arrested upon his return to Moscow, having been treated for poisoning in a Berlin hospital. He had been hospitalized due to an assassination attempt made on his life using poison of the “Novichok” group. He was sentenced to prison for more than two and a half years on Tuesday. The verdict sparked international condemnation.
Karácsony criticized the Hungarian government, arguing that while “the democratic world” expressed support for Navalny and crowds of peaceful demonstrators in Russia, the government joined such declarations “only half-heartedly or not at all” and instead “increases Hungary’s dependence on Russia.”
The mayor wasn’t the only one who raised his voice against Alexei Navalny’s sentencing and the lack of condemnation from the Orbán government.
“Putin can twist the justice system & lock up Navalny until the 2024 presidential elections. But he will not break him. Meanwhile, Orbán’s deafening silence continues: still no condemnation on this gross attack on freedom and rule of law,” liberal opposition Momentum MEP Anna Donáth posted on Twitter.
Independent lawmaker Bernadett Szél also emphasized on social media that people wanted the Hungarian government and Viktor Orbán to immediately demand the release of Navalny and other political prisoners.
According to Szél, this request might be in vain as “…the government makes a secret nuclear deal with Putin, receives the Russian leader every year, and lobbies against EU sanctions to represent Russian interests.”
Independent MP Ákos Hadházy shared a similar opinion on Facebook.
“The poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny is bad news for Hungary as well, since Orbán does nothing but emulate his boss in Moscow.”
Hadházy drew several parallels between the Russian president and the Hungarian prime minister.
“Putin stole a great portion of Russia’s oil revenues, meaning he gave the assets to some of his opulent men.” Hadházy believes Orbán did the same with a significant portion of the financial support from the EU. Both leaders have bought up much of their country’s press, used to provoke and intimidate people and censor opposition opinions, he said. According to Hadházy, both leaders cheat in the elections more and more as dissatisfaction grows and control weakens.
“Putin gets opposition politicians and journalists arrested and repeatedly killed. We haven’t reached this point yet.” Hadházy said, adding however, that it is worth considering how many people would have imagined about ten years ago that the above-listed actions of Putin would be taken by Hungary as well.
Politicians of ruling Fidesz have not made any comments regarding the imprisonment of the Russian opposition leader.
The Orbán government joined a resolution by the European Council condemning the Russian government for arresting Navalny, but Hungary was also the only EU member that didn’t join another EU resolution that condemned the brutal police response to the ongoing protests in Russia.
Featured photo by Court of Moscow/EPA/MTI