Protesters rallied in support of a free and independent Ukraine and against what they called the Hungarian government’s “shuttlecock policy”, in downtown Budapest on Saturday.
The demonstration was organised by a civil group supporting Ukrainian independence at the call of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Budapest’s Szabadsajtó (Freedom of the Press) Road.
Péter Juhász, one of the organisers, said that while civil groups were showing solidarity towards refugees and were doing everything they could for them, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Hungarian government “hasn’t done anything”.
“So civilians are the heart of Hungary,” Juhász said. “Orbán, on the other hand, is not the heart of Hungary but rather its sticky hand, and that sticky hand is now also a bloody hand”.
“We mustn’t allow this because the world will think that we’re the same as Viktor Orbán,” Juhász said.
Historian Krisztian Ungváry said Orbán’s position on the war meant the prime minister believed that ideas like national self-determination, liberty and the fight for freedom only mattered if they concerned the ruling Fidesz party.
Ungváry said Ukraine was defending not just itself but the whole of Europe.
“Ukraine today is also fighting against the regime of Viktor Orbán because Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin are brothers,” he said. “They both reject Western democracy . and are building an illiberal state in its place.”
Kata Törley, a teacher and an activist of the Tanítanék (I Would Teach) Movement, expressed respect for Ukrainian women and mothers in Ukraine and Russia.
She said the government was not giving the education the extra resources it needed to teach Ukrainian refugee children.
Nika Krykun and Arseniy Markov, two Ukrainian students who appeared in the award-winning Ukrainian coming-of-age drama Stop-Zemlia, shared their personal stories with the demonstrators.
Markov said the Russian soldiers in Ukraine would “not make it home alive” for which they “have Putin to thank”.
Krykun said she would “never forgive the aggressors” for the nightmares her younger brother has because of Russian gunshots.
The demonstrators waved Ukrainian flags and held up signs that read “Stop Putin” and “Save Ukraine”.
The demonstration was preceded by a peaceful march by Ukrainian mothers who have fled to Hungary.
Fidesz: demonstration “further proof that the left wants to drag Hungary into war”
Csaba Dömötör, a state secretary of the cabinet ministry, said the demonstration was “further proof that the left wants to drag Hungary into war”.
In a statement to MTI, Dömötör said that “people close” to opposition prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay had also spoken at the event. “It is clear they want to comply with the Ukrainian president’s requests and send weapons to the battlefield, and they would close the gas taps,” the statement said.
That would mean that Hungarian families would pay the price of war, he said.
Dömötör noted that Hungary had condemned Russian aggression in Ukraine, and has expressed its concerns regarding Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and has pledged to help everyone in trouble.
“But the Russia-Ukraine war is not our war. We didn’t cause it and do not want to take part in it,” he said.
“There is no prosperity without security. The country can only be built further if we preserve security,” he said.
featured image via Péter Juhász’s Facebook page