Hungary intimidated Ukrainian prisoners of war - media
Ukrainian prisoners of war handed over by Russia to Hungary were threatened and persuaded to take Hungarian citizenship
This was reported by Kyiv Independent and Radio Liberty, citing diplomatic sources.
According to the source, the prisoners of war were convinced that it was better not to return from Hungary to Ukraine, as they faced an immediate return to the front or a trial for "desertion."
Ukrainians were also reportedly encouraged to take Hungarian citizenship. The prisoners of war allegedly had surnames of Hungarian origin, but only one spoke Hungarian.
What we know about the transfer of Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary
On June 9, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it had handed over a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war to Hungary. The Ukrainian intelligence service said it did not know of this. International organizations, including the Red Cross, also had no relevant information.
Later, Hungary confirmed the transfer of 11 prisoners of war, noting that it was a "gesture of goodwill" by the Russian Orthodox Church. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry summoned the Chargé d'Affaires of Hungary to provide explanations.
On June 16, Commissioner for Missing Persons Oleh Kotenko said Ukraine had established the whereabouts of 11 prisoners of war. A few days later, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry demanded that a consul be allowed to visit them. At the same time, Budapest continued to disregard the rights and fundamental freedoms of people and ignored all attempts at constructive dialogue with the Ukrainian embassy.
On June 19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine noted that, together with the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War and other involved bodies of Ukraine, "they continue to take active measures to return home allegedly 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war, whom Hungary, without the knowledge of the Ukrainian government or international human rights organizations, took out of Russia."
"All attempts by Ukrainian diplomats in recent days to establish direct contact with Ukrainian citizens have been unsuccessful. This, as well as information received from the families of some of them, indicates that the assurances of the Hungarian authorities about the allegedly free status of Ukrainian defenders in Hungary are not true. They are being held in isolation, do not have access to open sources of information, their communication with families takes place in the presence of third parties, and they are denied contact with the Ukrainian embassy," the Foreign Ministry said.
On June 19, European Commission Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano said that Hungary should explain its actions regarding the transfer of Ukrainian prisoners of war from Russia and its communication on this issue.
On June 20, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war were taken from Russia in the interests of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. His Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, denied Kuleba's words, rejecting the government's involvement in the exchange. According to him, the transfer of Ukrainian prisoners to the Hungarian side took place as a result of "discussions between the church and religious organizations."
The Hungarian opposition denied that the agreement on the POWs’ release took place without the government's involvement. Commenting on Szijjarto’s statement, opposition leader Péter Márki-Zay recalled that Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén was involved in the process, which the latter confirmed publicly.
On June 21, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said that Hungary had violated international law and the rights of Ukrainian prisoners of war when it accepted prisoners of war from Russia.