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Poll: Majority of Hungarians disapprove of Orban's meeting with Putin

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 7, 2023 2:15 PM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the sidelines of the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Oct. 17, 2023. (Grigory Sysoyev / Pool / AFP)
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A majority of Hungarians disapprove of the recent meeting of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, according to a survey commissioned by Hungarian opposition media outlet Nepszava released on Nov. 7.

The survey found that 52% of respondents said the meeting was unacceptable, while 35% approved of the meeting.

Nepszava said that the methodology of the survey was representative of the Hungarian adult population.  

Orban met with Putin on Oct. 17 in Beijing, where the two were participating in China's Belt and Road Forum. Orban was the only EU leader to attend the forum.

When meeting with Putin, Orban referred to the war in Ukraine as a "military operation," a coded term used by Russia to distract attention from the fact that Moscow launched a full-scale war. A plurality (36%) of respondents polled believed that Orban intended to make a pro-Russian statement by using the term, while 23% said he was only "trying to be diplomatic."

An overwhelming majority of respondents said that Orban was aware of the weight that using Russia's terminology would carry.

When asked who initiated the talks between Russia and Hungary, 39% believed that Hungary pressed for the meeting.

At a time when other leaders and officials from EU countries have refrained from meeting with Putin or other Russian leaders, Hungary has remained an outlier, maintaining close ties with Russia since the full-scale invasion, stalling sanctions, and holding up aid for Ukraine.

Hungary has also delayed the ratification of new members Finland and Sweden into NATO. It finally ratified Finland's accession to the alliance nine months after the original application.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto visited Moscow in October for the fifth time since Feb. 24, 2022. He has also visited Belarus twice.

Exclusive: New insights point to Hungary’s collaboration with Moscow on transfer of Ukrainian POWs
In early June, a bizarre and mysterious joint operation was carried out between two of Ukraine’s neighbors, one to the east and one to the west. Eleven Ukrainian soldiers, after having been held in Russian captivity for an unknown amount of time, were moved from Russia to Hungary. Although
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