Help us serve you better. Take a survey now

Take survey
Skip to content
Edit post

Mass protests in Hungary over child sex abuse scandal

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 17, 2024 1:53 PM 3 min read
Tens of thousands of people protested in Budapest on Feb. 16, 2024, in what was the biggest rally against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government in years. The protests broke out after a pardon in a child sex abuse case by President Katalin Novak caused a public uproar and led to her resignation. (Balint Szentgallay/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.

Become a member Support us just once

Tens of thousands of people protested in Budapest on Feb. 16 over a child sex abuse scandal that has rocked the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and caused a series of resignations.

The wave of discontent arose after it was revealed that President Katalin Novak, who resigned on Feb. 10, pardoned a man convicted of covering up widespread sex abuse at a government-run children's home.

Justice Minister Judit Varga resigned soon after, and furious accusations and infighting have since broken out within Orban's ruling Fidesz party, with some calling for Orban's resignation.

The BBC and other outlets have characterized the ongoing scandal as Orban's "biggest challenge in 14 years of uninterrupted Fidesz rule."

Large crowds demonstrated on Feb. 16 in an expansion of the growing movement. The BBC reported that those gathered were mostly young people protesting "against the abuse and neglect of children and for social solidarity."

Orban has largely remained silent on the issue, but he is scheduled to deliver a state of the nation address later on Feb. 17.

As the backlash has grown, the scandal has expanded beyond the controversial pardon into direct criticism of Orban's government and associated cronyism and corruption.

Former Orban ally and Varga's ex-husband, Peter Magyar, released a widely viewed video on Facebook on Feb. 11 denouncing corruption in Fidesz and across Hungary.

"It must be said now that this cannot go on," Magyar said, rhetorically questioning whether Hungarians think it is "normal" that "a few families own half the country."

Hungarian opposition leaders gathered in front of the prime minister's office on Feb. 15, denouncing Orban's silence on the issue and saying it indicated deeper structural problems within Fidesz.

Opinion: Orban is plain wrong on Ukraine
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sought to blackball Ukraine’s bid to formally start EU accession talks last month, arguing that Ukraine was simply not ready. Ultimately, the other 26 EU member states decided to ignore Orban’s protestations and formally agreed to the start of accession talks wi…

Hungary and Ukraine have had a contentious relationship that has worsened since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion. Orban has maintained close ties with Russia, bucking the united front that the EU has tried to present in support of Ukraine.

Hungary has repeatedly opposed Ukraine’s accession to NATO and the European Union and blocked the EU's financial support for Ukraine. Orban previously said that Ukraine is a financially "non-existent" and "no longer sovereign" state due to its "dependence" on international support.

Orban blocked a 50 billion euro ($54 billion) EU financial aid package for Ukraine during an EU summit last December. Orban dropped his opposition to the four-year support package on Feb. 1, explaining his reversal on the grounds that a control mechanism would supposedly ensure that Hungary's funds "will not end up in Ukraine."

Orban says Ukraine should be ‘buffer zone’ between Russia and West
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Ukraine should be left as a “buffer zone” between Russia and the West, with allies giving the country security guarantees but not accepting it into the EU or NATO.
Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.
Freedom can be costly. Both Ukraine and its journalists are paying a high price for their independence. Support independent journalism in its darkest hour. Support us for as little as $1, and it only takes a minute.
visa masterCard americanExpress

News Feed

Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
5:30 PM

Netherlands, Germany, Canada to send drones to Ukraine.

Canada will send 450 SkyRanger multi-mission drones, while the Netherlands, in collaboration with Denmark and Germany, will supply Ukraine with Heidrun RQ-35 reconnaissance drones worth 200 million euros ($213 million).
1:34 PM

Macron says he hopes for Olympic truce.

"We want to work towards the Olympic truce and I think that this is an opportunity on which I will try to involve many of our partners," Macron said, speaking to BFMTV 100 days before the Olympics start in Paris.
3:57 AM

Israel's UN Envoy: Listen to President Zelensky and wake up.

Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, called on the international community to condemn the Iranian attack on Israel using the words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the April 14 emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.
MORE NEWS

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required

Subscribe

* indicates required
Subscribe
* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.