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US Embassy finances billboard campaign on Ukraine

April 13th, 2023

Pro-government commentators condemn the US Embassy for what they see as lecturing Hungary over freedom and war.

On Wednesday, US Ambassador David Pressman held a press conference to express his government’s concern over ‘the continued eagerness of Hungarian leaders to expand and deepen ties with the Russian Federation’. Media reports ahead of the press conference speculated that the Ambassador would announce sanctions on Hungarian public figures, but that did not happen. Ambassador Pressman said three executives of the Budapest-based and Russian-run International Investment Bank, including one Hungarian national were targeted by the new sanctions. Meanwhile, billboards sponsored by the US Embassy and placed by a Facebook group throughout Hungary carry the photo of a 1956 Budapest graffiti with the words: ‘Russians home’. The accompanying text says peace in Ukraine depends on the complete withdrawal of Russian troops.

In Magyar Nemzet. Tamás Pilhál rejects the message of the billboards as clearly criticising the position of the Hungarian government, which urges an immediate ceasefire and peace in Ukraine. As for the famous slogan of the 1956 revolution ‘Russians go home’, Pilhál writes that Hungary might send the same message to US Ambassador David Pressman whom ‘we did not receive in our country to be lectured by him’.

On Mandiner, Gergely Vágvölgyi accuses the US Embassy of duplicity, as in 1956 Hungary was left in the lurch by the United States while its revolution was being crushed by Soviet troops. He adds that Hungarians were at that time waging a proxy war on behalf of the United States just like the Ukrainians are at present. Hungarians know what fighting for freedom means, he concludes, and need no lecturing from people who ‘don’t understand’ that.

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