In Ukraine, the Hungarian minority under surveillance

Hungarian separatism is not waking up in Uzhhorod, despite the identity tensions that Ukraine is the subject of. Capital of Transcarpathia, at the western end of the country, the peaceful town of 120,000 inhabitants is home to a large Hungarian community determined to defend its native language. Supported financially and politically by the government of Viktor Orban, the Hungarian minority is also the subject of special attention in Moscow.

“Russia has been seeking for several years to stir up an interethnic conflict between Hungarians and Ukrainians, in order to reinforce the feeling that Ukraine, as a state, is a failure”, assures Alekseï Petrov, president of the regional council of Transcarpathia. “I am all the better informed as I come from counter-espionage [SBU], he specifies.

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As proof, Mr. Petrov mentions a series of incidents that have occurred in Uzhhorod in recent years: the burning of a cultural center and the looting of a Hungarian cemetery, threats on social networks. The elected official, whose past at the SBU is undoubtedly no stranger to his parachuting in Oujhorod, affirms that the executors present themselves as militants of the extreme right, but “Act on order of the GRU”, that is, Russian military intelligence.

“Diplomatic pressure tactic on Kiev”

As Ukraine celebrated its 30th anniversary of independence on Tuesday 24 August, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went to Budapest the same day to seek an ally against Kiev on the subject of ethnic discrimination in the country. their common neighbor. Drawing a parallel between the Russians of Donbass, in eastern Ukraine, and the Hungarians of Transcarpathia, the head of Russian diplomacy denounced “A practice similar to that of Nazi Germany”. Measured, his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, preferred to reaffirm his “Support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine”, while underlining major disagreements with Kiev on respect for the rights of national minorities.

“There is no Hungarian separatism here”, confirm at World Jozsef Barta, leader of the parliamentary faction of the KMKSZ, the Hungarian minority party. “What we want is to keep our children the right to education in the Hungarian language throughout the school curriculum. “ Kiev passed a law in 2017 requiring the Ukrainian language to be dominant in all middle and high schools. “We are told that it is to promote our integration, when in fact children learn better in their native language”, he argues.

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