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Over the weekend, Ukrainian protesters placed new shoes at the Holocaust Memorial on the banks of the Danube River, which commemorates those Jewish victims of World War II who were shot into the water. In this way, the organizers want to draw attention to the fact that in Mariupol, Ukraine, the same genocide is taking place as in World War II. The action is a reaction to an earlier comment by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who asked the Hungarian Prime Minister to go to the Danube bank and commemorate the Ukrainian victims there as well. He also asked Hungary to act more decisively in the war. Hungary’s Prime Minister rejected the demands (arms delivery to Ukraine and tougher sanctions against Russia). According to Viktor Orbán, these would run counter to the nation’s interests.

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

“On March 27, the Ukrainian Association ‘Yednist’ (unity) organized in Budapest near the memorial ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ an action in honor of the victims in Mariupol,” the Embassy of Ukraine in Hungary begins its Facebook post in Ukrainian, Hungarian, and English.

The Z sign of the Russian attackers is called a “menacing neo-Horog cross,” and they also draw attention to the suffering of the citizens trapped in the building in Mariupol during the bombing of the theater. According to them, 300 of about 1300 people who had sought refuge were killed in the process.

There is a memorial here, in Budapest. It is called Shoes on the Danube Bank. It honors those Jews who were massacred by fascist militia in 1944–1945. It shows their shoes, because these people were ordered to take them off before getting killed.

People of Europe thought it would happen ‘never again.’ But it is happening. The genocide of Ukrainian people is taking place now in Mariupol,” the post reads, adding:

People of Europe have to take all possible and impossible measures to end this tragedy. Until that happens, new shoes will appear here, on the Danube Bank as a reminder that every day new war crimes are committed by Putin and we have not stopped him yet.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy enumerated the European Union member states that he believes are supporting Ukraine at a European Council meeting Thursday night, then stopped at Hungary and criticized the government’s actions. He told Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán when he was joined online:

Listen, Viktor. You know what is happening in Mariupol. Please, if you can, go to your bank in Budapest. Look at the shoes. You will see how mass murders can be repeated in today’s world. In Mariupol, there are people too: Adults and children. Grandfathers and grandmothers. There are thousands of them.”

He called on Orbán not to hesitate, but to take a clear position regarding sanctions against Russia, weapon deliveries to Ukraine, and trade with Russia.

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Orbán rejected requests to extend sanctions to the energy sector and to send weapons, arguing that such actions would not be in line with the national interest.Continue reading

In response to Zelenskyy’s address to Orbán, Bertalan Havasi, the head of the Press Office of the Prime Minister said that the Hungarian Prime Minister rejected the demands (arms delivery and tougher sanctions). According to Orbán, these would be contrary to the interests of the nation.

Hungary wants to stay out of this war, so it does not allow any weapon deliveries across its borders and does not send any weapons to Ukraine. At the same time, it supports the war refugees with all the means at its disposal and provides them with humanitarian aid.”

Havasi added that to his knowledge, half a million Ukrainian refugees had come to Hungary.

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Orbán said Ukraine has an interest in involving "as many countries as possible" in the war, "so we must absolutely make clear that we will not take part in the war".Continue reading

Featured image via the Embassy of Ukraine in Hungary’s Facebook page

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