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Hungary's Nationalist Leader Orban Criticizes Ukraine's Zelenskyy in Election Victory Speech

Attila Kisbenedek | Afp | Getty Images
  • Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party won a comfortable majority over the opposition United for Hungary alliance on Sunday, despite expectations for a tight race.
  • Fifty-eight-year-old Orban has often boasted of his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • That link became a major challenge for the electoral campaign of his ruling Fidesz party.

Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, on Sunday evening dubbed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, one of his opponents, following a landslide election victory for the nationalist leader.

Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party won a comfortable majority over the opposition United for Hungary alliance on Sunday, despite expectations for a tight race.

In a 10-minute speech to his supporters following the election, he claimed victory and then denounced what he described as an "overwhelming force" that had been against him and his campaign — which included Zelenskyy.

"The left at home, the international left all around, the Brussels bureaucrats, the [George] Soros empire with all its money, the international mainstream media, and in the end, even the Ukrainian president," he said, according to a translation by The Associated Press.

Fifty-eight-year-old Orban has often boasted of his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that link became a major challenge for the electoral campaign of his ruling Fidesz party. Hungary gets close to 85% of its gas and 64% of its oil from Russia, and the country became the first EU nation to buy a Russian-made Covid-19 vaccine — even though it wasn't approved by European regulators.

However, Orban has condemned Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and remained loyal to the European Union. His government has approved, together with the other EU member states, tough sanctions against Russian oligarchs and the Russian economy and has welcomed nearly 400,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Hungary is also a member of NATO and is open to hosting troops from the military alliance on its territory. But it has rejected any energy sanctions on Moscow and has banned the direct transit of lethal weapons to Ukraine via Hungary.

Zelenskyy on Saturday said the Hungarian leader had been out of touch with the rest of the EU. He called him "virtually the only one in Europe to openly support Mr. Putin," according to Sky News. 

"The whole of Europe is trying to stop the war, to restore peace. ... Then why is official Budapest opposed to the whole of Europe, to all civilized countries?"

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