Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukraine Terrorizing Ethnic Hungarians -- It's Old Footage Of Extremist Gangs


  • szerzõ: Lead Stories
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Ukraine Terrorizing Ethnic Hungarians -- It's Old Footage Of Extremist Gangs Fringe Gangs

Does Ukraine terrorize its ethnic-Hungarian minority in the Transcarpathia region? No, that's not true: A video making this claim shows footage from a 2019 television documentary that depicted anti-Hungarian agitation by fringe Ukrainian extremists, not the state. These events occurred in 2018, before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took power, and the radicals do not occupy significant positions of national or regional authority in Transcarpathia, where most ethnic Hungarians live.

The claim appeared in a video on TikTok on April 9, 2023, under the headline "For those Hungarians who say, 'Glory to Ukraine,'" a reference to a cheer for Ukrainian troops fighting Russian invaders. The narrator says:

Life for minorities in light of terror attacks: Anti-Hungarianism assumed greater proportions than ever before. For the first time in Transcarpathia's history, an explosion occurred intentionally targeting the advocacy group for Transcarpathian Hungarians. On February 27, unknown perpetrators blew up the office of the KMKSZ (Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Transcarpathia) in Ungvár (Uzhhorod)... On the night of March 15 in Beregszász (Berehove), the windshields of four passenger cars with Hungarian license plates and a microbus were smashed. (Translation by Lead Stories)

Here is a screenshot from the TikTok video:

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue May 16 13:14:17 2023 UTC)

The TikTok clip omits the part of the TV documentary clarifying that these events took place in 2018, not 2023 (see the 16:38 mark.) Geolocation of shop names in the video's background of reveals that the marchers were demonstrating in Uzhhorod, whose population was 6.9 percent Hungarian at the 2001 census. Regional news outlets reported that men in identical black clothes and balaclavas paraded through the city center on March 17, 2018.

There is no evidence these extremists enjoy broad support among Ukrainians. The video shows men waving flags bearing the insignia of Karpatska Sich (Carpathian Bivouac), a paramilitary gang created by the Svoboda (Freedom) party, a Ukrainian ultranationalist outfit. Svoboda took just over 2 percent of the vote in the 2019 parliamentary elections, according to Ukraine's Central Election Commission, and the party has no representation in Transcarpathia's regional council.

Ukrainian authorities responded promptly to the anti-Hungarian unrest depicted in the TikTok video. Police arrested three suspects within a week of the bombing of the Hungarian cultural association in Uzhhorod on February 27, 2018; one perpetrator was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020. And four days after the men in black marched through Uzhhorod on March 17, 2018, the governor of Transcarpathia issued an order banning the wearing of balaclavas at public events.

There is no evidence that the Zelenskyy administration supports Ukrainian radical threats against ethnic Hungarians. To be sure, there is some friction between the Kyiv government and its ethnic-Hungarian citizens, particularly with respect to a law that Hungarian leaders complain will eliminate minority-language education. Transcarpathian Hungarians also complain of ethnic provocations by local politicians such as the mayor of Munkachevo.

Still, Viktor Mykyta, head of the Transcarpathian military administration, described keeping interethnic harmony as one of his top priorities in an interview with a Hungarian-language news program on May 12, 2023. At the 0:47 mark, he said:

We have kept the situation in hand and we have not allowed any manipulation to happen in national minority matters... My personal mission is to preserve the peace and the level of security that is presently being experienced here, in Transcarpathia. (Translation by Lead Stories)


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