Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Beyond-border Hungarians and the Ukraine conflict

February 24th, 2014

Correspondents on the sport tend to get carried away by the revolt in the Ukraine, but analysts in Hungary are worried about potential negative conseuqences as to the plight of the Hungarian ethnic minority there.

Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer takes up the defence of the Maidan crowd against Index correspondent András Földes who wrote that there was a strong anti-Semitic faction among the protesters. Földes wrote from Maidan that in the moments when the Ukrainian parliament passed the resolution to return to the 2004 constitution and the crowd spontaneously started singing the national anthem he felt touched despite the fact that he knew some of the people with whom he stood shoulder-to-shoulder would soon fight among themselves, and a handful were in fact “ultranationalists and anti-Semites”. Bayer finds this language typical of liberals who are quick to depict nationalists as ultranationalists and as anti-Semites.
On Cink, Albert Gazda, a Hungarian born in Ukraine, warns against over-enthusiastic interpretations of the victory of the Maidan crowd. Ukraine, he thinks is an oligarchy where local officials, including Hungarian leaders, must conform to whoever is in power in Kiev. This is why Hungarians now try to appear neutral, he explains. Unlike in the past. Following a split in the local Hungarian Alliance in 1990, one of the organizations supported Viktor Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution in 2004, while the other, favoured by the previous president, Yanukovich, “quickly fled the sinking ship”. The resulting shift in power damaged Hungarian autonomy, as the new Prime Minister, Julia Tymoshenko  initiated an aggressive campaign to restrict the use of languages other than Ukrainian in public life and education. Although the main targets of the nationalists are Russian speaking Ukrainians, Hungarians were also among the victims. When Yanukovich in turn beat Tymoshenko (and put her in jail), the language regulations were eased and Hungarians in Ukraine benefited along with Yanukovich’s Russian speaking base. While they are no fans of Yanukovich’s defeated corrupt system, they see no more appealing alternative around and certainly dread overzealous west Ukrainian nationalists who have often shown a passion for damaging local Hungarian monuments.