More than 200,000 refugees have arrived in Hungary from Ukraine, said Péter Szijjártó (pictured) on March 10. State news agency MTI reported the news, and the next day a translation of this item was published in the English-language news on the Hungarian government’s website, About Hungary.
But there were a few key differences between the two versions. In Hungarian, one sentence reads:
Szijjártó Péter fontosnak nevezte a világos és egyenes beszédet ebben a helyzetben, és hangsúlyozta, hogy Magyarország elítéli a katonai agressziót, kiáll Ukrajna területi integritása és szuverenitása, kiáll az ukránok mellett.
(Peter Szijjártó said that clear and straightforward communication was important in this situation, and stressed that Hungary condemns military aggression, stands up for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and stands up for the Ukrainian people.)
However, the government-provided English translation of this sentence in About Hungary ended up looking like this:
Minister Szijjártó underlined the importance of communicating clearly and responsibly about the war, stressing that Hungary condemned Russia’s military aggression and supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the Ukrainian people.
The English sentence hews closely to the original Hungarian, except that it calls the conflict a “war” and names the aggressor as “Russia,” while it does neither of these in the original Hungarian. In the same way, notes HVG, Minister Szijjártó only condemns the aggression in general terms in all of the websites run by MTI in Hungarian.
However, four hours after this, the news site notes that Péter Szijjártó did indeed mentioned “Russian military aggression against Ukraine” in another Hungarian-language MTI item.
Earlier this month, investigative reporting outlet Direkt36 revealed, based on leaked internal communication, how the Hungarian government regularly interferes in the day-to-day operation of MTI, distorting the news in line with its own political interests. [HVG]