Ukrainian police raids on Hungarian cultural institutions draw ire of Hungarian government

Unofficial sources claim that the Hungarian institutions presented a threat of separatism and armed insurrection, but no weapons or substantial evidence has been found to support such accusations

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Daniel Deme

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to Hungary over a special police unit raid on a number of cultural and educational institutions belonging to the Hungarian ethnic minority in Ukraine’s Sub-Carpathia.
On Nov. 30, heavily-armed commandos from the elite SBU unit turned up at the doors of the Ferenc Rákóczy II. Institute in Berehove, the Ede Egán Foundation in Uzhhorod, and raided the private apartment of László Brenzovics, the president of the Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia (KMKSZ).
Officers wearing protective gear and carrying machine guns were accompanied by special investigators who have taken away hard-drives and documents from the institutions, yet authorities are not forthcoming about the reason for the raids. Although they have declined to clarify the exact reasons for such a heavy-handed intervention, unofficial sources speak of an investigation into alleged separatism and armed insurrection threatening the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The raids could be a continuation of an earlier court case against representatives of the Hungarian minority filed in Zaporizhzhia, a city in East Ukraine. So far no weapons or incriminating documents have been found to support the serious accusations, and there was no evidence presented that would explain such a heavy-handed police raid. In fact, young men from the Hungarian minority have been drafted into the army to take part in military operations in the Eastern of the country. AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh In this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 photograph, children attend class at the Velyka Dobron High School in Velyka Dobron, Ukraine. A new education law that could practically eliminate the use of Hungarian and other minority languages in schools after the 4th grade is just one of several issues threatening this community of 120,000 people. Many are worried that even as Ukraine strives to bring its laws and practices closer to European Union standards, its policies for minorities seem to be heading in a far more restrictive direction. According to representatives of the Transcarpathian Hungarian minority, the police action is a witch-hunt against ethnic Hungarians designed to put pressure on the Hungarian government, as well as to cater to ultra-nationalist voters. József Barta, the deputy-leader of KMKSZ, had stated that “in the past period, there were many provocations against us, as a result of which we, Transcarpathian Hungarians, do not feel safe any longer, and we have the impression that sometimes we are persecuted. And the powers in whose interest it would be to guarantee us this sense of security and to protect us from persecution, are failing to do so and are in fact often the initiators of such acts.”
Given the comparison between the size and military might of the two countries, accusations of Hungary trying to re-annex its former territories lost in the 1920 Versailles treaty remain far-fetched. Yet sources such as the Ukrainian news agency Interfax lists a historical map of pre-WWI Hungary allegedly found in one of the raided offices as indication of such conspiracy.
The root of the conflict lies in the Ukrainian language law that restricts the use of the languages of ethnic minorities in culture, education and public life that was heavily criticized by a number of national governments as well as international bodies, such as the Venice Commission . As a result of this legislation, and subsequent intimidation of Hungarian minority representatives, Hungary is currently blocking Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership ambitions. On the other hand, Ukraine seems to be responding to the obstacles placed in the way to its international strategic interests by allowing radical nationalist groups to intimidate members of its ethnic minorities, which has resulted in death threats and repeated arson attacks against institutions.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó had posted a video on his social media account where he states that “there is a NATO member country, against whose nationals such criminal acts can be committed in a non-NATO country, and no one utters a word… When such an open insult and aggression is committed in an un-cultured and un-European manner which is unacceptable in the 21st century against a national community, everyone is quiet. When I have raised this question in the meeting of NATO foreign ministers, there were only two countries who said that we are right to show solidarity and that it is not right that such incidents occur. There was no other reaction.”
The foreign miniser has also asked the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to send observers to Transcarpathia to investigate the unprovoked insults against Hungarians committed in Ukraine. The observers are already in the area where these incidents have occurred and will be in touch with representatives of the Hungarian minority.


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