By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – A tense calm returned to the streets of Hungary’s capital late Saturday after rival protests were held about the ongoing Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The pro-Russia protest in downtown Budapest saw protestors supporting Moscow’s military action in Ukraine shouting “Nuke them.”
They gathered at Szabadság (Freedom) Square near the U.S. embassy and a World War Two memorial remembering Soviet troops to accuse the United States of “provoking the war.”
After someone decorated the Soviet memorial with tiny Hungarian and Ukrainian flags, protestors quickly replaced them with Russian ones, reporters witnessed.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was pressured to ban the gathering, but his government declined, citing freedom of speech.
Nearby, hundreds of people armed with Ukrainian flags rallied in support of Ukraine in Budapest’s Vértanúk (Martyrs’) Square.
Speakers reminded the crowd that in 1932 and 1933, “Russians carried out genocide” against Ukrainians “by starving 3-7 million people to death.”
They said Russians came to Ukraine again “with rockets and tanks” and urged Hungary’s government and legislators to support the nation.
They suggested the fate of “the two peoples is the same” as Hungary “also has martyrs” including in 1956 when Russian forces crushed the Hungarian Revolution against Soviet Union domination
Hungarian actress Kriszta Szalai highlighted that “only the politicians play games” while the “people of Hungary are with Ukraine.”
The protest organized by groups such as the Ukrainian Cultural Association in Hungary came amid frustration about the government’s stance on Ukraine. It has refused to send weapons to Ukraine while paying in rubles for Russian natural gas supplies.
However, the government says it provides humanitarian aid and that Hungary has opened its hospitals for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees.