‘We shouldn’t get involved’: Ukraine a key issue as Hungary heads to polls

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At first glance, Corvin Alley in Budapest seems a perfect place to empathise with Ukraine.

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The circular hallway in central Budapest – which is today a bustling conduit to a neighbouring retail mall – was the scene of some of the most bloody combat during the 1956 revolt.

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During this time period, several local teenagers assaulted the Red Army with crude weapons in a futile attempt to overturn Soviet-imposed communism.

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Yet Ata, 39, a hotel worker and keen supporter of Hungary’s governing Fidesz party, felt no connection with Ukraine’s plight as he walked past a statue depicting a youthful insurgent.

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"There is no such thing as a link between the two. Ukrainians are impolite, and Putin gave them exactly what they deserved," he stated.

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"The Ukrainians are licking our arses and pleading for our assistance, but we should stay out of it."

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Faced with him is a cohesive six-party opposition coalition that he has persistently – and incorrectly – depicted as warmongers advocating the deployment of Hungarian military to Ukraine.

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While there is widespread support for Ukraine, it is sporadic — and in other cases altogether missing.

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"I would estimate that between 30% and 40% of Fidesz supporters are extremely pro-Russian," said Daniel Hegedus, a German Marshall Fund specialist for central Europe.

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Orbán has long portrayed the EU and Hungarian-born benefactor George Soros as foes, while cultivating good connections with President Vladimir Putin, whom he has met 12 times.

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