Ukraine turns to violence amidst worsening relations with Hungary


November 14, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by Jafe Arnold – 

“Ukraine above all”

On November 11th and 12th, several important events took place in historical Carpathian Rus (now Ukraine’s Transcarpathian region). On the first event, let us quote the official press release of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU): “In two western regions, SBU officers stopped the operations of illegal centers illegally issuing Ukrainian citizens the citizenship of other countries.” 

The Ukrainian secret police launched raids in two regions – Transcarpathia and Chernovtsi (historical Northern Bukovina, formerly part of Romania). In these “centers” since “exposed,” packages of documents were prepared for Ukrainian citizens intending to obtain EU country passports. Most likely, the countries in question are Hungary and Romania, but the SBU has not officially confirmed this. The SBU report did, however, emphasize that it was false documents being made.

Secondly, on November 11th, militants of the Ukrainian Nazi organization, Carpathian Sich, besieged the Consulate of Hungary in Uzhgorod. The Nazis hung posters with anti-Hungarian slogans and lit flares on the consulate’s gate. On November 12th, in Beregov (a predominantly Hungarian city in Transcarpathia), Svoboda Party activists seized the Hungarian flag from the city council building and tried to burn it, only to be thwarted by police who returned the flag. The action involved around 50 participants, the vast majority of whom came to Transcarpathia from other regions.

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Ukrainian state media reports have stressed that such acts of vandalism against the Hungarian consulate and Hungarian state symbols are the work of “marginals,” whose actions have been stopped by the police. However, as is well known, Ukrainian authorities deserve little to no trust when it comes to reporting and inter-ethnic relations. These events have not only shared geographical factors, but seem to be glaringly coordinated with the actions of the Ukrainian government (the SBU and police) and Ukrainian Nazis from Carpathian Sich and Svoboda.

Why did the Uzhgorod police allow an aggressive crowd to reach the Hungarian consulate in the first place? The experience of many actions shows that the police can very effectively and brutally disperse such gangs if they have the green light from authorities. In this case, the conclusion begs itself that the police passively observed the Nazi actions. There appears to have been no order to defend the consulate.

This is even more blatant in the case of the action in Beregov. First the police “couldn’t” prevent the Hungarian flag from being taken down from the city hall building. Only then were they “able” to re-capture the flag and prevent it from being set alight. In my opinion, the Ukrainian authorities’ official version looks fantastical or, in the very least, unconvincing. 

Yet if we look at the clumsy actions of the Ukrainian police in both Uzhgorod and Beregov in one and the same context with the closure of two “centers” supposedly issuing Hungarian and Romanian passports, then the intent of the police and the SBU becomes obvious. Ukraine is very dissatisfied with the tough resolve of these countries to oppose Ukraine joining NATO and the EU. Kiev has long since sounded the alarm over the practice of Hungarian and Romanian passports being issued to citizens of Ukraine. The political and diplomatic conflict between Budapest, Bucharest, and Kiev over the new Ukrainian education language law has prompted Ukrainian authorities to opt for tougher measures. 

Kiev has suddenly “remembered” that Hungarian passports have been received by around 250,000 Ukrainian citizens, and has decided to deal a blow to illegal documentation centers. The problem of counterfeit Hungarian documents does exist, but why has the SBU only paid attention to this problem now, during an escalation of the conflict with Budapest? Besides, this problem is not so much Ukraine’s as it more affects the EU countries in question.

Aggression against the Hungarian consulate whose protection was entrusted to Ukrainian authorities, the abuse of Hungarian state symbols in Beregov, and the intimidation of the indigenous Hungarian population of Transcarpathia are apparently Kiev’s retaliation for its Hungarian neighbor’s political positions. This strike is strictly calculated and hasn’t gone too far. 

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Hungary has been shown that if it pursues any “unfriendly” policy towards Ukraine, then the latter is ready to opt for more stringent measures. Conveniently enough, such measures will be done by the hands of seemingly “uncontrolled” Ukrainian Nazis. In fact, Carpathian Sich is in close contact with the SBU, and its militants regularly train at training polygons in Transcarpathia where NATO officers and instructors are constantly present. Ukrainian Nazis are an obedient and handy stick for the dirty affairs of the Ukrainian secret police, and now they are being used against Hungarians and Romanians, just as earlier they were unleashed against Russian diplomatic missions and Russians in Ukraine.

Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public Initiatives. 

Jafe Arnold is Special Editor of Fort Russ, Special Projects Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of Eurasianist Internet Archive. Holding a Bachelors in European Cultures from the University of Wroclaw (Poland), Arnold is currently undertaking his Masters in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. 

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