Thousands of people showed up in front of the Russian Embassy on Andrássy Avenue in Budapest yesterday to protest the early morning Russian attack on Ukraine. United opposition candidate for prime minister Péter Márki-Zay had earlier announced the 7pm protest as an opportunity for Hungarians to express their solidarity with Ukrainians and ethnic Hungarians in across the border.
The crowd began gathering in front of the Russian Embassy before 7pm, chanting slogans like “Putin is a murderer,” “Putin is a terrorist,” “Stop Putin, stop war,” and “Russians, go home!”
The first speaker, popular vlogger Zsolt Osváth, quoted pro-government publicists and government politicians who had talked about Russophobia and said that a Russian attack was inconceivable.
From dawn today, the country and world can see how much Putin’s word is worth.
-continued MP Ágnes Vadai from DK, who said that Viktor Orbán, “as a friend of Putin, had become a friend of war.”
She drew parallels with 1956 and the speech Orbán gave as the socialist system ended, and stated that the Hungarian government must stand firm against Russian aggression and for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
There is no such thing as an ex-KGB – just KGB.
-said Katalin Lukácsi from Everybody’s Hungary Movement, who introduced the speakers at the event. According to Máté Kanász-Nagy, co-chair of LMP, it is shameful that Orbán continues to do business with Putin. He added that real independence can only mean self-sufficiency, even for energy and food.
Ágnes Kunhalmi started her speech by saying in Ukrainian that she supported Ukraine, then continued by demanding that Peter Szijjártó give back the Order of “Friendship” he had received from the Russian Foreign Minister.
Kunhalmi said that if the opposition is able to form a government, the entire European Union will get to see the benefits. Hearing this, the crowd began chanting “Europe!”
I trusted that I would not have experience war. I believed in a free world.
-said actor László Józan, an ethnic Hungarian from Transcarpathia, adding that he was sad and disappointed by the war.
Viktor Orbán and Putin must choose: either there is war or there is peace.
-said Jobbik Vice-President György László Lukács, who declared that “Hungarians choose Europe and peace.”
We have twice stated that we want peace-loving Western democracies as allies and not conflict-seeking Eastern dictatorships.
-said Momentum President Anna Donáth, referring to the referendums held on NATO and EU.
We carry the pain of 1848 and 1956 in our genes.
-continued Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, who also referred to Viktor Orbán’s famed speech in 1989, when the current Prime Minister called for the Russians to leave Hungary but which he has now forgotten, the mayor said.
Karácsony added that the Ukrainian flag had been raised at Budapest City Hall, and that Fisherman’s Bastion in the Buda Castle would be illuminated in Ukraine’s national colors from tomorrow.
The capital is ready to accept those seeking asylum from the conflict in Budapest, and at the same time expel the “Russian spy bank” from the country, said the mayor of Budapest. Several songs were then played before the closing speech by the united opposition’s candidate for prime minister, Péter Márki-Zay.
As I’m speaking, when I say a single word, there is somebody who is still alive, while another is not.
-said Péter Márki-Zay, noting that most people had not witnessed a war for a long time. But “we want peace,” he stressed.
People are now worried about the lives of others, including Hungarians, and not just in Ukraine, but the future of the current world order is being questioned, claimed the opposition leader.
Only the European Union and NATO can guarantee peace, said Márki-Zay, when bombs are falling just 200 kilometers from the Hungarian border and “Putin wants to build a new Soviet Union.” He also applauded Orban for calling Putin an aggressor.
Márki-Zay then clarified that when he previously said that NATO’s position would have to be followed, he was not demanding that Hungarian soldiers be sent to Ukraine, because no NATO member state is planning to do so. However, even Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó spoke about the need to follow NATO’s stance, which he said again had granted the opposition’s request.
“Russians go home!” the crowd chanted again after Márki-Zay repeated the demand in his morning video statement that the government should suspend the licensing for the Paks II nuclear power plant expansion project, Russia’s International Investment Bank should be expelled from the country, and the Foreign Minister should return his award from Russia. As he closed his speech, Péter Márki-Zay prayed for peace in Ukraine.
At the end of the official demonstration, Katalin Lukácsi asked whoever in the crowd had an EU or Ukrainian flag to lay it down at Fidesz’s headquarters on Lendvay Street.
However, access to the building was reportedly blocked by police, and the protesters were unable to get near it.