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Ukraine accused of intimidating Hungarian minority

December 15th, 2020

A left-wing commentator condemns the Ukrainian authorities for persecuting local ethnic Hungarians who sang the Hungarian Anthem. She believes, nonetheless, that the Hungarian government should be less tough on Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities accused ethnic Hungarian in Siurte, a small village near the Hungarian border, of ‘high treason and threatening Ukraine’s territorial integrity’ because they sang – after the Ukrainian anthem  – the Hungarian one as well at the end of an official meeting. A criminal procedure is underway against them. Later on, a series of raids by security service commandos took place in the buildings of Hungarian minority organisations and charities. Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó said Ukraine is employing dark methods to intimidate its own citizens.

In Népszava, Mária Gál condemns the attitude of the Ukrainian authorities. She was born in Romania and recalls that singing the Hungarian anthem was important for ethnic Hungarians who were discriminated against under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship. Banning the national anthem of ethnic minorities is the prerogative of dictatorship, she writes. She urges the Hungarian Foreign Ministry to react, but believes that its harsh reactions to previous measures against ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, including blocking Ukraine’s rapprochement towards NATO, have been fruitless. Playing hardball backfires, she writes, as the Ukrainian authorities react by taking revenge on ethnic Hungarians there.

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