Tens of thousands of freedom-loving teachers and students rallied in Budapest over the weekend on the 66th anniversary of the 1956 revolution, protesting against the government, demanding better wages and educational reform. At the same time, many expressed their disgust at the current abuse of the memory of the revolution by the Orbán regime.
Why? Because, in a shocking U-turn, the prime minister now says that the Hungarians of 1956, thousands of whom lost their lives, were in fact not fighting for their freedom or democracy – but to force a ceasefire and peace negotiations conducted over their heads by the Western and Eastern blocs.
That’s what he wants for Ukraine, too. It does not matter what the Ukrainians want, the war can only be ended by negotiations between the US and Russia, Orbán said in Berlin in mid-October.
To get them to the table as quickly as possible, the parties must be forced, Orbán explained. For example, he said, a major problem is that weapons from the West are pouring to the front. He did not mention weapons from the East. He also hopes that the Americans will turn away from Kyiv.
Thus, for Orbán, it is not the Russians who need to be coerced, but the country under attack. In the struggle between two political systems, he is rooting for autocracy. Meanwhile, a current government campaign portrays the EU’s sanctions against Russia as bombs falling on Hungary.
The memory of the revolution could perfectly mirror Ukraine’s struggle today. As in 1956, Russian tanks have once again invaded a country striving for freedom and democracy.
Unlike our prime minister, who began his career by standing up to the Soviet empire in 1989, many Hungarians have not forgotten this.