Putin: Soviet Union’s decision to crush Hungarian, Czechoslovak uprisings was a ‘mistake’

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with business representatives on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Sending Soviet troops to suppress the anti-Soviet uprisings and liberalization attempts in then communist Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 was a mistake, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday.

“It is not right to do something in foreign policy that harms the interests of other peoples,” Putin said, referring to Russia’s position that the West is interfering in its affairs and ignoring its security concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion.

Putin said the U.S. was making the same mistakes as the Soviet Union, saying Washington “has no friends, only interests.”

Critics of Putin’s remarks say the Russian president is hurting the interests of Ukraine after it launched a war there in February 2022.

The 1956 Hungarian War of Independence was defeated by Soviet tanks and troops, and at least 2,600 Hungarian soldiers lost their lives in the fighting. The Prague Spring of 1968 was also ended by the invasion of Soviet forces, with 137 deaths, according to Czech historians.

In Hungary, the issue entered the limelight after news that a Russian history textbook written for 11th grade students by Vladimir Medinsky, former Russian minister of culture and current adviser to Putin, called 1956 a “fascist uprising.” The Russian embassy in Budapest later denied that the final version of the textbook actually made this assertion.

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