Orban’s 11 hostages: how Russian Orthodox Church and Russian authorities “trade” Ukrainians with the Hungarian government

The story of the release of 11 captured soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who were handed over to Hungary by the Russian Federation without even informing Ukraine, is gaining new details, but some key information remains unknown. Specifically, the conditions of such an exchange are unclear. However, it is certain that the Hungarian government is playing the Russian game, which is not heavily concealed within Orban’s government.

Read the column of the diplomat and now Member of Parliament of Ukraine, Bohdan Yaremenko to learn more about the circumstances surrounding these events, what preceded them, and what may be expected in the future.

The editorial board of European Pravda (Ukrainian news website) remains open to publishing other opinions about this story and, in general, about the prospects for the development of relations between Ukraine and Hungary, from which even the remnants of good neighborliness are being eroded.

The commentary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine regarding the transfer of a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war by Russia to Hungary begins with the acknowledgment that liberation from captivity is always a blessing.

Ukraine always perceives news about the return of soldiers captured by Russians in the same way.

However, no one has returned to Ukraine yet in the situation with Hungary.

And the details of this story raise many questions, in addition to a series of already known and not always pleasant answers.

Russian Orthodox Church’s announcement and Hungary’s role

This story publicly began not in Hungary, but in Russia, with the statement of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) on June 8, 2023, stating that “within the framework of inter-church cooperation and actions prompted by Christian philanthropy,” a “group of Ukrainian prisoners of war of Transcarpathian origin” was transferred to the Hungarian state through the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The announcement is not just surprising but strongly reeks of falsehood.

See also: Killing of prisoners of war in Olenivka and search for survivors: what are international organizations doing? Results of the trip to Geneva

Hungary is not a church to engage in inter-church dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church, and there are only around 10,000 Orthodox believers among the 9 million citizens of Hungary. We are well aware of Russia’s “philanthropy” and its advanced propaganda squad — Russian popes. We only did not know that Russian Orthodox philanthropy extends more to the residents of the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine and does not extend at all to the people of Donetsk, Crimea, or residents of other regions of Ukraine, to whose exchanges the Russian Orthodox Church remains indifferent.

By dismissing half of it, one can easily see a grain of truth: within the framework of special relations between the Hungarian and Russian regimes, the Russian Federation transferred a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary (likely ethnic Hungarians, although this was only an assumption at the time because the ROC’s statement did not mention their ethnic origin).

In theory, the fact could have not raised any questions or emotions other than gratitude. After all, foreign states have already participated in complex negotiations with Russia regarding the exchange of prisoners of war, or participants in the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, each time it was done at the request and with the knowledge of Ukraine, and Ukraine was aware of the course of the negotiations and expressed preferences regarding the individuals it wanted to be released from Russian captivity.

Hungary did not burden itself with communication regarding its intentions concerning the citizens of Ukraine.

And when this story became public, Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Semjén directly stated that instead of being interested in the fate of these prisoners of war, that is, asking who these people are and where they are now, Ukraine should simply bask in silence from happiness.

The Hungarian official also clarified the ROC’s statement and stated that 11 released individuals were ethnic Hungarians from Transcarpathia.

Deputy to Viktor Orban, demonstrating skills that exceeded those of the ROC in distinguishing prisoners of war based on ethnic rather than territorial origin, did not deny himself the pleasure of playing the fool and claimed that Hungary, supposedly, did not know the whereabouts of the released individuals because the essence of their release is that they become free to do as they please.

The absurdity of the latter statement is obvious to anyone who has been interested in the return of Ukrainian soldiers from captivity, their physical and psychological condition, etc.

Ukraine’s response and shifting policy towards Hungary

In fact, you don’t need to be a graduate of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Academy to guess that Ukraine is witnessing a cynical joint operation by the special services of Russia and Hungary.

And it looks like this special operation has not yet come to an end.

See also: The Compatriots: How Russian organizations in Europe work for the propaganda and foreign intelligence of the Russian Federation

Although Russia could have shown signs of gratitude to the Hungarian Prime Minister and government without any additional operations, due to their constant support of Kremlin’s informational narratives, the dilution of EU sanction policies, and the obstruction of consensus decisions in this field by the Russians. This might already seem sufficient for Orban to make requests to his friend Vladimir regarding the release of Ukrainian prisoners of Hungarian descent.

However, Russians decided to gain additional bonuses from this story and strengthen the positions of their latest instrument of Ukrainian colonization policy, the Russian Orthodox Church, which is facing dark clouds not only in Ukraine but also in many EU states where Russian intelligence service operatives operate in cowls.

They exist both in Budapest and sometimes achieve significant success, as was the case in April of this year when a photo of “warm Christian embraces” emerged featuring the Pontiff visiting Hungary and Metropolitan of Budapest and Hungary Hilarion. Until June 2022, Hilarion headed the external relations department of the ROC and, in line with the old Russian tradition, blessed the killing of Ukrainians.

Therefore, Russians strategically and advantageously “sold” 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary, knowing that eventually they can “sell” others when Orban or Szijjarto come crawling to negotiate prices for energy resources.

There was no doubt about the immorality of Russia. However, the Hungarians in this scenario appear even worse.

Hungary once again transparently hinted at its claims to the so-called “ethnic Hungarian lands” and its perceived right to control the population in those territories by selecting 11 Transcarpathian ethnic Hungarians among hundreds or thousands of Ukrainian prisoners of war for trade with Russia and without even informing Kyiv.

Furthermore, the fact that the Orban’s government refuses to provide Ukraine with the lists of these servicemen and allow Ukrainian consular access to them gives accusations against Hungary of engaging in human trafficking, if not outright hostage-taking.

Therefore, Ukraine should not act as if it is incapable of distinguishing between good and evil. Kyiv should firmly formulate an ultimatum for the immediate transfer of Ukrainian citizens to Ukraine or an explanation of all the conditions of the Russian-Hungarian trade that obstructs this.

In terms of policy towards Hungary, it is necessary to acknowledge that Hungary has ceased to be part of the common EU and NATO policy and has become a Russian vassal in Central Europe. Ukraine must take this decision of the Hungarian leadership into account and shape its policy accordingly.

Originally posted by Bohdan Yaremenko on European Pravda. Translated and edited by the UaPosition – Ukrainian news and analytics website

See also: Orban’s Ministry of Truth. How do anti-Ukrainian and anti-European propaganda work in Hungary?

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