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“Russians! Home!,” chanted protesters on Tuesday evening in Budapest’s Clark Ádám Square in front of the International Investment Bank, which the opposition only refers to as a “Russian spy bank.” According to the opposition, the location is no coincidence, as the bank is a symbol of Russian influence in Hungary. Many in the crowd carried EU, Hungarian, and Ukrainian flags.

This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute.

At the beginning of the demonstration, signs reading “Hungary should belong to all of us” were distributed to participants, and some held up signs with Putin’s face crossed out, Telex reports. Such signs are replacing road signs in many places in Ukraine. Some Ukrainian flags were also seen in the crowd, as were signs reading “We will not be a colony.”

The Hungarian parliamentary elections in April will bring a “government of humanity instead of inhumanity,” the opposition’s joint candidate for prime minister stressed at Tuesday night’s demonstration.

For 12 years Hungary has had a government that is always at war with someone and has always lost these wars,”

Márki-Zay stressed, citing “the government’s struggles against the national debt, liberalism, migration, inflation, and the pandemic” as examples.

Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

Márki-Zay called Prime Minister Viktor Orbán a “mercenary and servant” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he was partly to blame for the situation in Ukraine.

At the same time, he added that the government had met most of the opposition’s demands by supporting the European Union’s sanctions against Russia. Now all they want is for the foreign minister to return the award he recently received “for his services to Russian interests” and for state media to “stop spreading Orbán’s Putin propaganda.”


The Russian “spy bank”

The International Investment Bank (IIB), which is majority-owned by Russia, moved its headquarters from Moscow to Budapest in 2019 despite protests from the United States. The biggest criticism at the time was the diplomatic immunity granted to the bank’s employees, which experts believe could have allowed Russian agents and spies to enter Hungary, and thereby the Schengen area. For this reason, the IIB was labeled a “spy bank” by the opposition even then, but the financial institution has repeatedly denied this.

Márki-Zay emphasized Hungary’s commitment to the West and said that it is not Orbán but EU and NATO membership that provides the country’s security.

Opposition PM Candidate Márki-Zay: Only NATO Can Protect Hungary's Safety
Opposition PM Candidate Márki-Zay: Only NATO Can Protect Hungary's Safety

"We also have experience, not only the Ukrainians, of the overwhelming power of Russian tanks. We are not protected by Viktor Orbán, but by NATO," said opposition's joint candidate for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay.Continue reading

Bence Tordai, deputy leader of the parliamentary group of leftist-green Párbeszéd party, said that the war in Ukraine is the culmination of “a two-decade offensive of the Russian president, in which Viktor Orbán, his business partner, friend, and ally, was knowingly involved.”

Now we see that there are Russian tanks, missile launchers, and bombers in Ukraine. This is what the policy of Orbán’s buddy Putin has led to,”

he said, the demonstrators responding with boos and chanting “treason.”

Opposition Demands Hungary Leave "Russian Spy Bank" IIB after Czechia and Romania Pull Out
Opposition Demands Hungary Leave

Even though Hungary emphasized that it supports all common EU and other Western sanctions against Russia, whether the Orbán-led government would agree to withdraw from the IIB is an entirely different question.Continue reading

Tordai insisted that Orbán is still working to slow down joint European action and weaken NATO’s response “because that is what he has been doing since 2010.”

The demonstration was also addressed by a woman who fled Ukraine with her three children and her parents, while her husband remained in Ukraine. She said she did not know what day it is exactly, only that it is the sixth day of the war in Ukraine.

While your children play peacefully in the streets, my children have learned the true meaning of the word ’war’ by helping other volunteers on the streets make Molotov cocktails to stop Russian tanks,”

she said.

If Russia stops fighting, there will be no more war. But if Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no more Ukraine,”

Marija concluded her speech.

Marija, a woman who fled Ukraine, speaks during the demonstration on March 1, 2022. Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI/MTI Photo Editorial Office

Government: “Opposition only pours oil on the fire with the demonstration”

“We will not allow anyone to drag Hungary into the war,” the Government Information Center (KTK) said in a brief statement. It was added that for the government, the security of Hungary and the Hungarian people comes first.

Therefore, Hungarian soldiers must not be involved in this conflict, and we will not send weapons to Ukraine either,”

The Left and Márki-Zay are behaving irresponsibly and their “reckless statements” pose a threat to Hungary’s security and the safety of its people, the government finally said.

Sources: MTI, Telex

Featured image via Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

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