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How Viktor Orban Weighs On Ethnic Hungarians In Ukraine

TRANSCARPATHIA — Throughout the border in Hungary, the government-controlled mass media repeats Russian propaganda concerning the conflict in Ukraine and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s excuses for voting towards Ukrainian initiatives on the European Union and NATO.

However right here within the Ukrainian area of Transcarpathia — which borders Hungary and is dwelling to about 150,000 Hungarian-Ukrainians — Budapest’s coverage additionally has a direct impact. The tenacity with which Budapest fights for the rights of Hungarians in Transcarpathia is paying homage to the Kremlin’s efforts to ‘defend’ Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The one key distinction is that Budapest has not gone to conflict.

Ukrainian media web site Ukrainska Pravda traveled to Transcarpathia in the hunt for solutions to quite a few important questions. Is the Hungarian language and tradition actually suppressed in Ukraine? How giant is Budapest’s affect there? And the way does the area rid itself of imperialistic markers (each Soviet and Hungarian)?

Anna’s view

Anna is ready for her grandson Timur, who attends the Lajos Kossuth secondary college in Berehove. The college, like many others, is taken into account “Hungarian” by the locals. Like most academic establishments within the Transcarpathian Berehove area, the language of instruction is Hungarian. Out of 37 faculties, not a single class is taught in Ukrainian.

Anna’s grandmother, husband and mother-in-law are from Hungary. When requested how she identifies, she smiles: “You assume I do know? All the pieces is so blended up right here.”

Russia has solely attacked the area as soon as because the invasion started, and Timur, Anna’s grandson, has continued to go to highschool in particular person.

Requested if she thought Orban had informed Vladimir Putin to not bomb Transcarpathia, Anna mentioned “No. It’s simply that there’s a restrict to every part. I watch loads of tv and take heed to what the Hungarians truly say. Our [Ukrainian] media lies lots,” she says. “The Hungarians despatched us a lot assist; I can’t clarify it. They opened the borders, mentioned we might go away.”

A deputy towards growth

Berehove deputy Vitaly Antipov angered officers in Budapest when he proposed a scheme to pay dad and mom of elementary college kids 30,000 hryvnias (round $800) yearly if their kids are despatched to lessons the place the language of instruction is Ukrainian. Mother and father who ship their kids to Hungarian faculties are given 10,000 hryvnias (round $270) per 12 months.

The Hungarian Minister of Overseas Affairs, Peter Szijjártó, known as the proposal “a impolite step in the direction of the liquidation of the Hungarian minority.”

“If nothing is completed,” Antipov says, “Berehove will lose most of its youth. They discover it troublesome to suit into Ukrainian society and infrequently go overseas… Now we have to combat for individuals. My private opinion is that the state of Hungary is subtly conducting a strategy of growth by way of a monopoly on language studying.”

“Why do most graduates (of faculties in Berehove), who obtain a diploma with the Ukrainian seal and coat of arms, not know Ukrainian?”, Antipov asks. “It’s as if we’re getting ready children for one more state. I don’t know the place else on this planet an individual is given a diploma from a rustic whose language they have no idea.”

Swapping symbols of nationwide minorities throughout a conflict isn’t any method to victory.

The query of language studying got here up once more in fall 2022, when a bronze turul, a legendary chicken which stands as Hungary’s nationwide image, was faraway from an obelisk within the Ukrainian metropolis of Mukachevo, and changed with a trident, the nationwide image of Ukraine. The transfer triggered outrage in Budapest.

“It is a huge mistake,” the mayor of Berehove, Zoltan Babiak says. “Swapping symbols of nationwide minorities throughout a conflict isn’t any method to victory.”

Babiak, who gained the 2020 mayoral election with 72% of the vote, known as this system for exciting the research of Ukrainian “crude, with components of discrimination.”

“Understanding Ukrainian is a should, however it’s a sluggish course of. Berehove Hungarians usually are not vacationers. They have been born right here. They aren’t towards Ukraine. However they need the identical factor that each one Ukrainians need: to make use of their native language,” he says.


Vadim Pozdnyakov, a local of Kharkiv who moved to Transcarpathia in 2021, believes Transcarpathia is among the main areas in the method of decolonization. Over a 12 months, as much as 80 monuments, memorial plaques and symbols, primarily regarding the USSR, have been eliminated.

We’d like competent work from the state schooling system.

“About 900 streets have acquired new names,” he says. “However there are regional particularities. For instance, in Hungarian ethnic villages, Gagarin and Pushkin streets change into the streets of Istvan I and Sandor Petefi.”

Vadim doesn’t equate the affect of Hungary on Transcarpathia to Russia’s colonial designs. “The Hungarian query is hard, as a result of the Hungarian group is so completely different,” Vadim says. “There are those that combat, volunteer and help Ukraine. And there are characters who see Transcarpathia as a part of Hungary.”

“It’s actually troublesome for Hungarians to be taught Ukrainian. We’d like competent work from the state schooling system. Orban and his associates can’t be allowed to have their manner right here,” he says, referring to the KMKS (Celebration of Hungarians of Ukraine), a department of Orban’s ruling Fidesz social gathering, which seeks to unite Transcarpathia with Hungary.

“I nonetheless can not perceive why there are Hungarian flags subsequent to Ukrainian flags. How can that occur? There’s a Russian ethnic minority within the Sumy area, within the Putivl district, however there aren’t any Russian flags there. Or Belarusian ones someplace in Chernihiv Oblast. That will be ridiculous,” he says.

Hungarians on the entrance

After Russia’s full-scale invasion started, Maysm Adamenko, from the Transcarpathian city of Mukachevo, joined the volunteers. He helps to make periscopes from plastic pipes.

“Our Transcarpathian Hungarians, who’re combating on the entrance, have a really detrimental perspective in the direction of the place of the Hungarian authorities,” he says. “Their statements, blocking sanctions, vetoing selections to hitch the EU and NATO — it’s outrageous. They do not care concerning the state of our conflict. I believe it will be higher for them if we lose. They might then take the territories they think about their very own. However we gained’t lose.”

Janos Gaja, a 74-year-old native, agrees: “Putin is a conflict prison,” he says. “I’m Hungarian, however I need Ukraine to be right here. Hungary gave me nothing. Ukraine offers me alternatives, a job, a pension,” he says.

“I need Ukraine to be complete and undamaged. That’s why our Hungarians are on the entrance. Ukraine is our dwelling. And Kyiv is our capital.”

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