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Further comments on the US-sponsored billboard campaign

April 18th, 2023

The pro-government nationwide daily devotes two columns in as many issues to the billboard campaign financed by the US Embassy, which indirectly criticises the position of the Hungarian government on the war in Ukraine.

Magyar Nemzet’s Levente Sitkei accuses the Hungarian opposition of being subservient to the position of the United States, which seeks peace in Ukraine through arms deliveries rather than an immediate ceasefire as proposed by the Hungarian government. He condemns the opposition parties for joining what he sees as a ‘saber-rattling campaign’ launched by the US Ambassador to Hungary. His editorial is illustrated with a photo of the billboard, which compares the plight of Ukraine today to that of Hungary in 1956 and declares that the war may only end if Russian troops are withdrawn from Ukraine. It quotes the famous 1956 slogan: ‘Russians go home!”(For the billboard campaign see BudaPost, April 13)

The previous Magyar Nemzet issue features a column by Tamás Pilhál, who writes that the billboard campaign sponsored by the US Embassy was conducted by a Facebook group which is run by a PR company led by Krisztián Szabados, a former official of the now defunct Association of Free Democrats party. Szabados was also one of the founder members of the liberal Political Capital think tank which, Pilhál writes, was a subcontractor of the National Security (counterespionage) Agency under the left-wing government of the 2000s. In 2007, the head of that service invited Russian agents (disguised as Bulgarians) to submit agents to polygraph interrogations. At that time, Pilhál vituperates, Szabados and company ‘were inviting Russians rather than sending them home’.

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