By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent reporting from Budapest, Hungary
“It definitely hits close to home for us. We Hungarians remember our 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination, which was crushed by Russian troops,” a female protestor said.
A teary-eyed Ukrainian young woman told Worthy News she hadn’t heard from her family back in the war-torn nation.
Not everyone at the protest gave their full or real names, underscoring concerns in a nation where at least some fear consequences for speaking openly.
Hungarian protestors expressed worries about the perceived autocratic style of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Classical pop songs such as “let’s peace give a chance” were sometimes interrupted by shouts of “Europe, Europe” or “Long Live Ukraine.”
Tuesday’s protest was organized by Péter Márki-Zay, a candidate for prime minister of Hungary’s united opposition, who condemned Orbán’s pro-Russian policies.
Márki-Zay denied allegations by Orbán that the opposition was linked to those who crushed the 1956 Revolution. “Who makes deals with Putin right now?” he asked Worthy News. “It’s probably Orbán.”
Orbán has been pressured by Márki-Zay and others, such as the liberal mayor of Budapest, to distance himself from Putin and condemn the Russian invasion more forcefully.
While Hungary summoned the Russian ambassador amid the invasion, protestors said the prime minister had done little to support Ukraine.
His government has also criticized Kyiv over its language legislation that Budapest claims discriminates against minorities, including ethnic Hungarians and Russians living there.
Thursday’s protest came while Orbán sent additional troops to the Hungary-Ukraine border for what his government called “humanitarian and security tasks.”
The fiercely anti-migration Orbán, who faces tough elections on April 3, fears up to 600,000 people fleeing war in Ukraine could seek shelter in Hungary.
Long queues of desperate people have already been reported at the border.
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