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Hungary’s MPs call on Russia to pool efforts to defend ethnic minorities in Ukraine

The Russian lower house speaker slammed Kiev for stoking ethnic strife in Ukraine
Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin Sergei Bobylev/TASS
Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin
© Sergei Bobylev/TASS

MOSCOW, December 3. /TASS/. Hungary’s National Assembly has called on the Russian State Duma lower parliament house to pool efforts to defend the rights of national minorities in Ukraine, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Tuesday.

"Hungary’s parliament has turned to us, the State Duma, asking to pool efforts to defend the rights of minorities, first of all the right to study their native language. After the [Verkhovna] Rada [Ukraine’s parliament — TASS] adopted the language law, nationalities living in Ukraine are deprived of this right," he said, adding that a lot of ethnic Hungarians and Poles live in that country.

The Russian lawmaker also called on the European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to pay attention to the situation with the national minorities’ rights in Ukraine. "If Ukraine wants to be a European country, first of all it must get rid of such relics as nationalism in politics," Volodin noted. "Nationalists should not go unpunished for their behavior."

According to the State Duma speaker, Poland and Romania support more invigorated efforts in defense of national minorities’ rights in Ukraine.

Touching on possible practical steps, Volodin vowed that the Russian side would promote its stance within inter-parliamentary structures, such as PACE and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

He stressed that Ukraine’s nationalism was "the philosophy of the past." "Obviously, they [nationalists] are a thorn in the neck for the president, making their, so to say, radical contribution to Ukraine’s policy and creating tensions not only with Russia but with other countries as well," he claimed.

He warned the Ukrainian authorities about responsibility for illegal actions. "They will have to be accountable for their actions, for violating the rights and freedoms of citizens," Volodin stressed.

Slamming Kiev for stoking ethnic strife in Ukraine

The Russian lawmaker on Tuesday condemned the hypocrisy of the Ukrainian authorities in their stance on ethnic minorities. He went on to castigate their comments on the situation following the Ukrainian delegation’s attempts to disrupt a Crimean parliamentarian from addressing the UN Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva.

"As for the statements from certain members of the government and ministers, they should have probably kept quiet in this case, instead of exposing their ignorance, hypocrisy and their world views that are not only at odds with European standards, but are fundamentally condemned across the globe," Volodin told journalists on Tuesday.

On November 30, Volodin commented on an incident in which the Ukrainian delegation had tried to block Ruslan Balbek, a member of the Russian State Duma from Crimea, from speaking at the 12th session of the United Nations Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva. "Nationalism and the oppression of ethnic minorities may push a number of regions to secede from Ukraine," the lower house speaker said. Kiev must open its eyes to this and not permit any violations to the rights or freedoms of ethnic groups living in Ukraine, the speaker cautioned.

The Russian speaker’s statements apparently rattled Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who construed them as ‘national security threats’, while Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Bondar demanded an investigation.

Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Dmitry Kuleba vowed, for his part, that not a single region would ever secede from Ukraine and expressed readiness to accept "a couple of Russian regions" as part of Ukraine.