December 7, 2023


Poland’s most powerful politician, Jarosław Kaczyński, on Friday slammed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for refusing to condemn Russia for mass civilian killings in Bucha, Ukraine.

“My assessment is unequivocally negative — I must admit that it is all very sad,” Kaczyński, the deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, told Radio Plus. “When Orbán says that he cannot see what happened in Bucha, he must be advised to see an eye doctor.”

In his first press conference after winning a fourth term on Wednesday, Orbán said he had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask for an “immediate ceasefire” in Ukraine but also refused to explicitly condemn Russia over the events in Bucha, saying that an investigation should come first since “we live in a time of mass manipulation.”

After Russian troops retreated last week from Bucha, a town just outside Kyiv, Ukrainian authorities discovered roads lined with the bodies of people who had been tied up and shot at close range, as well as mass graves of local residents. Russian officials have repeatedly rejected allegations that their troops were responsible, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Tuesday that the scenes were a “provocation” by Ukraine meant to disrupt ongoing peace negotiations. 

The war in Ukraine has strained Poland and Hungary’s usually tight alliance, with Orbán’s continued close ties with Putin in particular drawing ire from Warsaw. Poland has been one of Europe’s fiercest advocates for a Russian energy embargo, while Hungary has rejected such a move, calling it a “red line.”

Still, Orbán took a conciliatory tone toward Warsaw in his speech Wednesday, arguing that Hungary’s “alliance with Poland must be solidified as we cannot remain standing alone in this storm.”

The two populist-ruled countries are protecting each other from EU efforts to get them to conform to the bloc’s rule of law and democratic standards.

But in Friday’s interview, Kaczyński again criticized the Hungarian leader’s continued dialogue with Putin, and warned that could have implications for the Warsaw-Budapest alliance.

“We cannot cooperate as we had in the past if this continues,” he said.


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