The Foreign Minister said that the Orbán government's decision not to send weapons to Ukraine ensured that humanitarian aid could cross the Ukraine-Hungary border.Continue reading
A pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian demonstration is set to take place in Budapest on Saturday, April 30, intending to show solidarity with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, liberal news portal 444.hu reports. The Orbán government, while confirming its stance against Russian aggression, stated that it will not be interfering in peoples’ right to assembly.
In his most recent press conference on Thursday, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás responded to journalists saying that if someone is a proponent of the liberal rule of law, they need to accept that the right to assembly extends to citizens, except for in completely radical instances. While other parts of the world may not accept this, Fidesz, he explained, supports classical liberalism, and will not be interfering in the pro-Russian demonstration.
Gulyás added that most Hungarians are clear on the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine, and that the protestors represent a minority of the population.
The question of whether it is a radical instance for this minority in Hungary to support a government and army which has invaded the territory of another sovereign state, threatened nuclear war, and faced accusations of committing war crimes and even genocide, appears to be a topic of deliberation in this case. Regardless of democratic freedoms, news of these demonstrators being allowed to voice their opinion, which includes the idea that “the USA and NATO [which Hungary is a part of] are the greatest threat to world peace,” will probably not sit well with Hungary’s Western allies and the international community, who have taken a very clear anti-Russian stance.
Budapest’s Ukrainian community has scheduled a counter protest for Saturday. The nonprofit Jednisty Asociaciya/United Ukraine Association is organizing its “Solidarity with Ukraine” event at Deák Square at one in the afternoon.
The time has come for us to show the world and to prove to ourselves that there are many of us in Budapest who unquestionably denounce Russian aggression, mercilessness, and the murder of civilians, and who stand by Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,”
the organization writes on its event page. Jednisty notes that ever since the revolution of 1956, Hungarians have understood what it’s like “when the Kremlin interferes in the internal affairs of a free country.”
Jaroszlava Hartyányi, a Hungarian member of the Ukrainian World Congress’ Executive Committee, wrote that the pro-Russian demonstration on Saturday is intended to provoke people, and “has nothing to do with the exercise of democratic rights.”
Hartyányi called on Hungarian police to withdraw permission for the event, stating that Russia launched an attack on Ukraine and Ukrainians have a right to defend themselves, and that “Russian soldiers are carrying out inhuman massacres,” which would discredit Heroes’ Square. She also noted that it not only “discredits the Hungarian government’s policy, since Hungary has also condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine,” but that it “is undermining the effective humanitarian aid that the Hungarian people and government have provided and are providing to Ukraine and its people.”
Hungary is an active destination for Ukrainians fleeing the war. Considering that more than 640 thousand refugees from Ukraine have arrived thus far, it may be safe to assume that seeing a pro-Russian demonstration in the capital of the first country they find asylum in could make people feel unwelcome, potentially stirring up trauma. Hungarians may also find a mid-war pro-Russian demonstration in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the statue of Lajos Kossuth to be, at its minimum, unsettling.
In the featured photo illustration: pro-Russian demonstration in Serbia. Photo by MTI/EPA/Andrej Cukic