Pro-Fidesz commentator: "I am rooting for the Russians"

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Pro-Orban commentator Andras Bencsik says he is rooting for Russia's victory

Andras Bencsik, TV commentator and editor of the rightwing weekly magazine Demokrata made a clear statement on pro-government Hir TV on where he stands on the war in Ukraine. "I have never met a person in this country who doesn't say 'I'm, rooting for the Russians' after taking a deep breath (...) I am also rooting for the Russians," Bencsik said.

Bencsik, most known for his pro-Soviet articles in the 1980s, said Ukraine does not meet any criteria for EU membership. According to Bencsik, Russian aggression is actually 'relative' because of what the Ukrainians 'have been doing in Donbas for eight years'. "We're rooting for the Russians to end this lie machine," said Bencsik.

Czech defense minister expresses disappointment with Orban over war in Ukraine

Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová expressed her disappointment with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in an interview with Czech political weekly, Respekt. „I feel sorry about what Viktor Orban does. Who else than Hungary with its historical experience of the bloody 1956 Soviet invasion should understand what is going on in Ukraine. That is why Hungary should be helping [Ukraine]. What Orban says looks inappropriate to me," Černochová said. 

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, several high-level government officials from other Visegrad countries have voiced their disapproval of Orbán’s policies and the relations between the former allies have soured in the wake of the events next door. 

Sławomir Dębski, director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw gave a comment to The Guardian last week saying Orbán’s position on Russia has in effect ended bilateral ties, as well as activities of the Visegrád Four, a grouping of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia that holds frequent leader summits and has often been aligned on issues in the past.

“Nobody wants to meet the Hungarians anymore. Now, when the time for a summit comes around, everyone starts communicating in Warsaw, Bratislava, and Prague, saying ‘What shall we do?’,” Dębski said.

Several government figures resigned from boards of university foundations

Last week Gergely Gulyás, Viktor Orban's Chief of Staff announced that several government figures (including Judit Varga, Mihály Varga, and János Lázár) all resigned from their positions as board members of foundations operating universities --following the European Commission's decision to cut some universities from EU funding.

When asked whether high-ranking government figures will remain members of the board members of foundations that run universities, Gulyás said that Brussels' expectations were "not clear on the matter". 

Despite Gulyas's answer to members of the press, The European Commission's guidelines on whether government politicians can remain board members are clear. The Commission's main issue with the foundations is that this way government figures can directly influence the allocation of resources and that there is still no Hungarian legislation preventing high-ranking officials from joining the boards of public interest trusts.

Fidesz MEP accuses European Parliament of using 'ideological pressure' during debate on the Istanbul Convention

The European Union must take steps towards unified ratification of the Istanbul Convention, EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli told the European Parliament. Hungary's governing party, Fidesz still refuses to accept the document on violence against women. MEP Balázs Hidvéghi accused the European Parliament of using ideological pressure.

The EU - including Hungary - signed the convention six years ago. The countries that ratify the convention means they take legal action against violence against women. Signing the convention alone only means that the government cannot pass laws that run counter to its objectives.

Hidvéghi stressed that violence against women must be tackled, but pointed out that the plenary debate is about “imposing the concept of gender on the member states. They are pushing the absurd idea that being a man or a woman is a human choice, not a biological fact,” he said. The Fidesz MEP said the Istanbul Convention "has failed as an international agreement, with more than half a dozen EU member states refusing to ratify it precisely because of its radical ideological content”.