Hungarian government claims to not know about transfer of Ukrainian POWs from Russia

16 June, 02:36 AM
Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary Zsolt Szemien (Photo:Wikimedia)

Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary Zsolt Szemien (Photo:Wikimedia)

The transfer of 11 Ukrainian POWs from Russiato Hungary is likely a personal project of Hungarian vice prime minister ZsoltSemjén, who did not inform other members of the Hungarian government, the Hungarian service of U.S.-funded news outlet Radio Liberty reported on June 15, citing sources including the Hungarian government and diplomatic service.

Semjén first reported the transfer on June 9, though Kyiv was not informed. Efforts by the Ukrainian government to gain consular access to the transferred POWs have yet to be successful.

According to Radio Liberty’s sources, the transfer of these POWs was handled on Semjén’s personal initiative and his contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church.

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These eleven soldiers were captured near Kupyansk in northeastern Ukraine, during heavy combat in that region in spring. All eleven have Hungarian names, though they don’t consider themselves to be Hungarian.

It’s still unknown how these soldiers were transferred to Hungary in the first place. Radio Liberty’s sources told the news service that they believe Semjén personally organized their transit through the EU’s Schengen Zone. The location of these soldiers is still unclear.

Neither the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, nor Gergely Gulyás, the Hungarian Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, was told about Semjén’s efforts, Radio Liberty reports. According to Radio Liberty’s sources, certain figures in the Hungarian government now fear a diplomatic rift with Ukraine, adding to already-existing tensions between Hungary and Ukraine, due to the former’s often pro-Russian disposition and statements.

One source reportedly told Radio Liberty that it is now obvious that Russia has lever on the Hungarian government – at least on the vice-prime-minister level – leading to Budapest’s “strategic silence” on the matter, in hopes that it would be forgotten.

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