Ahead of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, an estimated 2,000 Hungarians held a rally in central Budapest opposing their own government’s pro-Russian policies.
Although Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidez party has a two thirds parliamentary majority, its popularity has fallen more than 10 percent in recent months.
Many Hungarians are against his increasingly autocratic stance and warming ties with Putin.
One demonstrator expressed concern about the political direction he thought both countries were moving in:
“ There are no checks and balances in these two countries; at least we are trying to dismantle ours. In Russia ….Where is the opposition? What type opposition exists? Are there absolutely fair elections at all? No. Here in Hungary, there are elections, but they are far from balanced.”
Another was more worried about her own future:
“ I’m young and I would like to stay in Hungary, as Hungary is my home, but I’m worried about what could happen. I do not want bad things happening . If the situation really goes in the wrong direction then I will have to go, but I don’t want to leave.”
Anti-Putin protest in Budapest. Thank you, Hungary! Марш против Путина в Будапеште! pic.twitter.com/hVzdRzVZEF— Паша (@Pashakot) February 16, 2015
Putin will be discussing Russian gas supplies to Hungary and the building of a nuclear reactor – both of which tie the countries closer together – despite being unwelcome to some.
Our reporter in Budapest, Attila Magyar said:
Russian-Hungarian relations have never run smooth.
A few years ago, during the Russian-Georgian conflict the present Hungarian foreign minister (Péter Szijjártó) demonstrated in front of a banner saying “Russians go home”. Since then, it appears there has been a significant change in the current government’s position.