Russian President Vladimir Putin has some key allies in the European Union. In some countries, they are outliers, even fringe elements. But in Hungary, a nation of about 10 million people east of Austria, west of Ukraine, and north of the Balkans, Putin’s soulmate is the prime minister, Viktor Orban, Anna Nemtsova writes for The Daily Beast.
As with so many Putin allies and apologists Orban made the fight against immigration a centerpiece of his agenda. And he then went one better by identifying another Hungarian as the personification of evil “liberalism,” she adds.
“We maintain close ties with all right-wing ideologues in Hungary, because this is the only place in the Washington-managed EU where leaders are so brave as to pronounce what everybody thinks of immigrants and liberals,” Sergei Markov, an adviser to the Kremlin administration, told The Daily Beast.
But Putin is not Russia, adds analyst Vladimir V. Kara-Murza. He chronicles Putin’s successful efforts to transform Russia from the flawed democracy of the 1990s to the fully fledged authoritarian regime it is today, with falsified elections; censorship of the major media outlets; and repression of the opposition, in an essay for the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy:
Yet there are growing numbers of Russians—especially among the young generation—who are prepared to stand up against autocracy and corruption, as demonstrated by the nationwide protests that began in 2017. In the author’s view, the trends (and the demographics) are not in the Kremlin’s favor, and this emerging movement will eventually succeed in bringing the rule of law and democracy to Russia. It is important for Western leaders to maintain dialogue with Russian society and to avoid equating Russia with the current regime.