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Foreign Ministry demands access to Ukrainian POWs transferred to Hungary

by Martin Fornusek June 19, 2023 4:08 PM 2 min read
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry (Photo: Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar / Twitter)
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Ukraine's Foreign Ministry demands immediate access for a consul to the 11 prisoners of war (POWs) held in Hungary in isolation, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said on June 19.

"All attempts by Ukrainian diplomats over recent days to establish direct contact with Ukrainian citizens have failed. This and information received from their relatives indicates that Hungary's assurances about the free stats of Ukrainian soldiers are not true," Nikolenko wrote on social media.

The spokesperson added that the POWs are kept in isolation, have no access to open sources of information, and can communicate with their relatives only in the presence of "third parties."

He added that these acts can qualify as violations of the European Convention on Human Rights on Budapest's part.

On June 8, the Russian Orthodox Church announced a plan to transfer a group of captured Ukrainian soldiers of "Zakarpattia origin" to Hungary, without involving Ukraine's authorities.

Ukraine's westernmost Zakarpattia Oblast is home to roughly 150,000 ethnic Hungarians, of which more than 400 serve in the Ukrainian military.

Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén confirmed the plan on June 9, claiming the Ukrainian soldiers are already in Hungary as "free people."

Media: Hungary’s government was not aware of Ukrainian POWs transfer
High-ranking members of the Hungarian government were not aware of the plan to send 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war from Russia to Hungary, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty wrote on June 15, citing its sources.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry and intelligence services said they were not aware of the POWs' whereabouts and that Kyiv was not involved. Budapest's representative in Ukraine was requested to provide explanations to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

RBK-Ukraine wrote on June 10 with reference to military intelligence sources that the prisoners are being prepared for a propaganda stunt by denouncing Ukraine and praising the Russian Orthodox Church at a press conference.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the transfer was conducted between the Kremlin-backed church and Semjén without the knowledge of high-ranking Hungarian officials, including Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó.

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