Budapest, February 16 (MTI) – Demonstrators staged a protest against the forthcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest on Monday evening.
The crowd filling a 200-metre section of Rakoczi Street, a main thoroughfare, left the city’s Keleti (Eastern) railway station for the Western (Nyugati) one.
Protesters held up a poster with the slogan: “Putin Nyet, Europe Yes!” and the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” blared from speakers.
Police have cordoned off the route of the demonstrators.
Addressing the crowd, Gabor Vago, a former lawmaker of the opposition green LMP party, argued against the “Paks pact”, an agreement on the upgrade of Hungary’s single nuclear power plant with Russian involvement. He expressed solidarity with Ukraine and emphasised that Hungarians want to live in a western-type democracy.
Vago said the route of the march symbolised the wish that Hungary should advance towards the West rather than towards the East. He expressed distrust in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s illiberal policies and the government’s “weak foreign policy”.
Marton Gulyas, an activist of the civil group Human Platform, said that back in 1989 Orban had still been aware of the meaning of freedom but he has imposed an oppressive regime on the country during his premiership.
Ada Amon, leader of the climate policy institute Energy Club, said that the planned two new blocks at Paks would be “an eastern energy monster” while an energy policy serving the nation’s true interests would focus on the West.
She said that western energy policies prefer renewable resources. In turn, nuclear energy is an expensive, polluting and dangerous technology, threatening the economy and national security, and carrying corruption risk, she added.
Margarita Rimarenko, a Crimean Ukrainian studying in Hungary, said that in Crimea annexed by Russia there are no longer rights, laws and freedom.