28 липня Союз європейських футбольних асоціацій відкрив дисциплінарне розслідування щодо дій вболівальників «Фенербахче», які відзначились вигуками про Путіна
28 липня Союз європейських футбольних асоціацій відкрив дисциплінарне розслідування щодо дій вболівальників «Фенербахче», які відзначились вигуками про Путіна
Президент України про поведінку Росії: «Той, хто створює ядерні загрози для інших народів, сам точно не здатний безпечно використовувати атомні технології»
Оксана Покальчук каже: «Ще вчора у мене була наївна надія, що я зможу все виправити… І той текст буде видалено, а замість нього з’явиться інший. Сьогодні я зрозуміла, що цього не станеться»
Samantha Power won fame as a human rights advocate and was picked by President Joe Biden to lead the agency that distributes billions of dollars in U.S. aid abroad, including providing more food assistance than anyone else in the world. But since Russia invaded Ukraine, that job includes a new task with a Cold War feel — countering Russia’s messaging abroad.
As administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Power is dealing now with a global food crisis, brought on by local conflicts, the pandemic’s economic upheaval, and drought and the other extremes typical of climate change. As the Biden administration spells out often, the problems have all been compounded by Russia invading Ukraine, deepening food shortages and raising prices everywhere.
That set up an hearts-and-minds competition reminiscent of the days of the Soviet Union last month, when Power visited desperate families and struggling farmers in Horn of Africa nations. She watched relief workers give emergency food to children, always among the first to die in food crises, and announced new food aid.
But unexpectedly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov trailed her to Africa days later, visiting other capitals with a different message meant to shore up his country’s partnerships in Africa.
It was U.S. and international sanctions on Russia over its six-month invasion of Ukraine that were to blame for cutting off vital grain supplies from the world market, Lavrov claimed. He dismissed “the so-called food crisis” on the continent being hit hardest.
In fact, a Russian blockade has kept Ukraine’s grain from reaching the world. The international sanctions on Russia exempt agricultural products and fertilizer.
“What we’re not going to do, any of us in the administration, is just allow the Russian Federation, which is still saying it’s not at war in Ukraine, to blame the latest spike in food and fertilizer prices on sanctions and on the United States,” Power, back in her office in Washington, told The Associated Press.
“People, especially when they’re facing a crisis of this enormity, they really do know the difference about … whether you’re providing emergency humanitarian assistance … or whether you’re at a podium trying to make it a new Cold War,” Power said.
“For Mr. Lavrov to have traveled to Africa just after I did, there’s almost nothing tangible in the wake of that visit that the countries he visited have obtained from him, other than the misinformation and lies,” Power said.
Even African officials whose governments refused to join in formal U.N. condemnation earlier this year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine tell of calling Russian leaders privately to urge Russia to let Ukraine’s grain out of the ports, she said.
A former journalist, Power won the Pulitzer in 2003 for “A Problem from Hell,” a book on genocide that has fueled debates in government and among academics on the wisdom and morality of intervening in atrocities abroad ever since. She served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President Barack Obama, before joining the Biden administration.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, creating new food and energy shortfalls at a time when record numbers of people around the world were already hungry, much of Power’s focus has been on the food crisis. After an earlier decade of success slicing away at the numbers of people going without food, the estimated number of people around the world going hungry rose to 828 million this year, 150 million just since the pandemic, Power said, with many in acute need.
Even in countries outside areas where aid organizations warn of famine, high food prices are adding to political unrest, as in the overthrow of Sri Lanka’s government this summer. “Most analysts would be very surprised if the Sri Lankan government were the last to fall,” Power noted.
“The cascading political effects and the instability that stems from economic pain and people’s need, the human need, to hold authorities accountable for what is a terrifying inability to look out for the needs of your loved ones — that is a motivator if there ever is one” to protest, Power said.
“This, I can’t say it more starkly, is the worst food crisis of our lifetimes,” Power said.
There have been some hopeful signs in recent weeks, she pointed out — Russia allowing Ukraine to send its first ship of grain in months out of a Russian-blockaded port, and an easing of food and fuel prices.
But in the East Africa states hardest hit — Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia — four rainy seasons in a row failed, withering grain in the field and killing hundreds of million of livestock that were the only support for the region’s herders. “They don’t have a Plan B,” she said.
A woman farmer in Kenya told her of recoiling at the high price of fertilizer, and realizing she could only plant half as much food for the next season, a warning of even deeper hunger coming.
But donor assistance for Africa’s current hunger crisis is running at less than half of that for the last major one, in 2016, Power said. With no sign of an end to the war in Ukraine or to the food crisis, wealthier countries tell Power they gave much of their relief money to Ukraine and are otherwise tapped out.
Tellingly, a GoFundMe-run account that Power announced in mid-July for ordinary people to help out in the global food crisis showed just $2,367 in donations on Friday.
Power and other U.S. officials increasingly urge China, in particular, to give more relief. The Chinese Embassy in Washington, asked for comment, said China had given $130 million to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
“That’s not a talking point,” Power said of the request to China. “That’s a sincere hope.”
Триває сто шістдесят третя доба війни РФ проти України
Повідомляється, що перші курси під керівництвом Канади проходитимуть за гнучкою навчальною програмою
Також серед російськомовних етнічних росіян 36% асоціюють себе з ПЦУ, а з УПЦ (МП) – 13%
China’s military drills around Taiwan in response to the U.S. House speaker’s visit to the self-ruled island is a disproportionate and unjustified escalation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
Blinken said the United States has made it repeatedly clear to China it does not seek a crisis, adding that Washington and its allies were seriously concerned by its latest actions.
China has been conducting the largest-ever military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, including launching live missiles around the island it claims as part of its sovereign territory.
“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” Blinken told a news conference on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting, adding, “now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level.”
He emphasized that the United States would not take actions to provoke a crisis, but it would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.
“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said.
Blinken is in Cambodia meeting counterparts from Southeast Asian and 27 other countries, including China, Japan, Britain, the European Union, and India. He did not meet with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is hosting the gathering, earlier called for restraint from all sides and said there was a risk of miscalculation and conflict between major powers.
China on Friday said it would sanction U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” actions in visiting Taiwan.
Blinken said ASEAN and other Asian officials were seriously concerned that actions by China would destabilize the entire region.
“The last thing that countries in the region want is to see differences between mainland China and Taiwan…to be resolved by force,” Blinken said after Friday’s East Asia summit.
“It is incumbent upon us and China to act responsibly. What we don’t want are efforts by any country, including China and Russia, to disrupt international peace and security,” he said.
U.S. immigration authorities are planning to issue photo ID cards to immigrants in deportation proceedings in a bid to slash paper use and help people stay up-to-date on required meetings and court hearings, officials said.
The proposal from Immigration and Customs Enforcement is still being developed as a pilot program, and it was not immediately clear how many the agency would issue. The cards would not be an official form of federal identification, and would state they are to be used by the Department of Homeland Security.
The idea is for immigrants to be able to access information about their cases online by using a card rather than paper documents that are cumbersome and can fade over time, officials said. They said ICE officers could also run checks on the cards in the field.
“Moving to a secure card will save the agency millions, free up resources, and ensure information is quickly accessible to DHS officials while reducing the agency’s FOIA backlog,” an ICE spokesperson said in a statement, referring to unfulfilled public requests for agency documents. Homeland Security gets more Freedom of Information Act requests than any other federal agency, according to government data, and many of those involve immigration records.
The proposal has sparked a flurry of questions about what the card might be used for and how secure it would be. Some fear the program could lead to tracking of immigrants awaiting their day in immigration court, while others suggest the cards could advertised by migrant smugglers to try to induce others to make the dangerous trip north.
The Biden administration is seeking $10 million for the so-called ICE Secure Docket Card in a budget proposal for the next fiscal year. It was not immediately clear if the money would cover the pilot or a broader program or when it would begin.
The administration has faced pressure as the number of migrants seeking to enter the country on the southwest border has increased. Border Patrol agents stopped migrants more than 1.1 million times from January to June, up nearly one-third from the same period of an already-high 2021.
Many migrants are turned away under COVID-19-related restrictions. But many are allowed in and either are detained while their cases churn through the immigration courts or are released and required to check in periodically with ICE officers until a judge rules on their cases.
Those most likely to be released in the United States are from countries where expulsion under the public health order is complicated due to costs, logistics or strained diplomatic relations, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
At shelters, bus stations and airports along the U.S.-Mexico border, migrants carefully guard their papers in plastic folders. These are often the only documents they have to get past airport checkpoints to their final destinations in the United States. The often dog-eared papers can be critical to getting around.
An immigration case can take years and the system can be confusing, especially for immigrants who know little English and may need to work with an array of government agencies, including ICE and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which issues work permits and green cards. U.S. immigration courts are overseen by the Justice Department.
Gregory Z. Chen, senior director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said migrants have mistakenly gone to ICE offices instead of court for scheduled hearings that they then missed as a result. He said so long as immigrants’ privacy is protected, the card could be helpful.
“If ICE is going to be using this new technology to enable non citizens to check in with ICE, or to report information about their location and address, and then to receive information about their case — where their court hearings might be, what the requirements might be for them to comply with the law — that would be a welcome approach,” Chen said.
It was not clear whether Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration would accept the cards for airport travel or whether private businesses would consider it valid.
The United States doesn’t have a national photo identification card. Residents instead use a range of cards to prove identification, including driver’s licenses, state ID cards and consular ID cards. What constitutes a valid ID is often determined by the entity seeking to verify a person’s identity.
Talia Inlender, deputy director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at University of California, Los Angeles’ law school, said she was skeptical that using a card to access electronic documents would simplify the process for immigrants, especially those navigating the system without a lawyer, and questioned whether the card has technology that could be used to increase government surveillance of migrants.
But having an ID could be useful, especially for migrants who need to travel within the U.S., Inlender said.
“Many people are fleeing persecution and torture in their countries. They’re not showing up with government paperwork,” Inlender said. “Having a form of identification to be able to move throughout daily life has the potential to be a helpful thing.”
That has some Republican lawmakers concerned that the cards could induce more migrants to come to the U.S. or seek to access benefits they’re not eligible for. A group of 16 lawmakers sent a letter last week to ICE raising questions about the plan.
“The Administration is now reportedly planning yet another reckless policy that will further exacerbate this ongoing crisis,” the letter said.
The Joint Coordination Center overseeing implementation of the U.N.- and Turkish-brokered deal to get commercial ships with Ukrainian grain to world markets said Thursday that three more ships are expected to sail Friday.
The first ship, the Razoni, departed on Monday from Odesa and is en route to Lebanon with a cargo of corn.
The Navistar will be the second vessel to sail from Odesa, carrying 33,000 metric tons of corn destined for Ireland.
The JCC, which is made up of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, has also authorized the departure of two ships Friday from the port of Chornomorsk. The Polarnet will carry 12,000 metric tons of corn heading to Karasu, in northwestern Turkey, and the Rojen, which is carrying more than 13,000 metric tons of corn, is headed to Britain.
The total of 58,000 metric tons of grain is a small fraction of the more than 20 million metric tons in Ukrainian silos and on commercial ships waiting to leave the country. The U.N. says there are about 28 ships waiting to depart Ukrainian ports.
The JCC has also authorized the movement, pending inspection, of the Fulmar S, to enter the port of Chornomorsk. The ship is anchored at the center’s inspection area near Istanbul.
The vessels are scheduled to leave early Friday, but the JCC says departures could be affected “by readiness, weather conditions or other unexpected circumstances.” The vessels’ crew and cargo will undergo checks when they arrive at the inspection area in Turkey’s territorial waters.
The JCC says that, based on its experience with the first ship that sailed Monday, the Razoni, it is now testing moving multiple ships in the safe corridor, both outbound and inbound.
The Ukrainians mined their part of the Black Sea to protect their territory from Russian attacks. The U.N. said its experts determined early on in planning for the movement of grain not to attempt to demine the area, because it could take between three and five months, too long as food prices soar globally. Instead, safe lanes have been determined and the commercial vessels are to strictly adhere to them.
The JCC says the safe corridor has been revised “to allow for more efficient passage of ships while maintaining safety.”
There is a backlog of ships that have been stranded in Ukraine’s southern ports as a result of the more than five-month war. The JCC says the ships need to move out to free space for other ships to enter the ports so they can collect and transport food for export to world markets, as the July 22 Black Sea Grain Initiative envisages.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blasted Amnesty International in his daily address for an Amnesty report released Thursday that said “Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, as they repelled the Russian invasion that began in February.”
Zelenskyy said the report “unfortunately tries to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim.” He said, “There cannot be, even hypothetically, any condition under which any Russian attack on Ukraine becomes justified. Aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and openly terroristic.”
Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a statement that Amnesty has “documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas.” She said, “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
The head of Amnesty’s Ukrainian office also took issue with the report and in posts on Facebook said the Ukrainian office “was not involved in the preparation or writing” of the report. Okswana Pokalchuk said “representatives of the Ukrainian office did everything they could to prevent this material from being published” and that the report “was created based on data collected by foreign researchers and researchers from the Crisis Response Department of our organization’s global office.”
Amnesty said its researchers investigated Russian strikes in Ukraine between April and July in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions. Amnesty said its “researchers found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in the regions.”
“Most residential areas where soldiers located themselves were kilometers away from front lines,” Amnesty said. “Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas.”
Amnesty said that in the cases it documented, it was “not aware that the Ukrainian military who located themselves in civilian structures in residential areas asked or assisted civilians to evacuate nearby buildings – a failure to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians.”
Zelensky said in his address, “Anyone who amnesties Russia and who artificially creates such an informational context that some attacks by terrorists are supposedly justified or supposedly understandable, cannot but realize that it helps the terrorists. And if you provide manipulative reports, then you share the responsibility for the death of people with them.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday the Western military alliance has the joint tasks of supporting Ukraine in its fight against a Russian invasion and preventing the conflict from spreading into a war between Russia and NATO.
Speaking to a summer camp in his native Norway, Stoltenberg said NATO has a moral responsibility to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people who have been subjected to a war of aggression.
“We are seeing acts of war, attacks on civilians and destruction not seen since World War II,” Stoltenberg said, according to a NATO release of his prepared remarks. “We cannot be indifferent to this.”
Stotenberg said the world will be a more dangerous place if Russian President Vladimir Putin gets what he wants through the use of military force.
“If Russia wins this war, he will have confirmation that violence works. Then other neighboring countries may be next,” he said.
Ukraine’s military said Thursday that Russian forces were shelling multiple areas in Ukraine, including those around Kharkiv, Slovyansk and Chernihiv.
Meanwhile, Britain’s defense ministry said Ukrainian forces were using missiles and artillery attacks against Russian “military strongholds, personnel clusters, logistical support bases and ammunition depots.” A ministry statement said such attacks were likely to have a high impact on Russia’s efforts to resupply and support its forces.
«Ми працюватимемо і по колаборантах у тому числі. Місто буде на відпрацюванні»
«У 2014 році, після захоплення окупантами у Севастополі військової частини фігуранта, моряк добровільно перейшов на бік ворога і присягнув на вірність агресору»
Russia and the United States said on Friday they were ready to discuss a prisoner swap, a day after a Russian court sentenced basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for a drugs offense.
The case against Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, plunged her into a geopolitical maelstrom after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden had previously agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss potential prisoner exchanges.
“We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden,” Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia.
“If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy … that is their business, and I would even say that it is their problem.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was prepared to engage with Moscow through the established diplomatic channels. He said Griner’s conviction highlighted her wrongful detention by Russia and further compounded the injustice that had been done to her.
The Kremlin had previously warned the United States against turning to “megaphone diplomacy” in the case of Griner, saying it could only derail efforts to secure a potential swap.
Griner’s sentence — which Biden called “unacceptable” — could pave the way for a prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and a prolific Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison term in the United States.
The United States has already made what Blinken called a “substantial offer” to secure the release of Americans detained in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.
‘A serious proposal’
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said after Griner’s sentencing that the United States had made Russia a serious proposal.
“We urge them to accept it,” he said. “They should have accepted it weeks ago when we first made it.”
Kirby did not provide further detail on the U.S. proposal.
Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Bout for Griner and Whelan, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters.
Russia had tried to add convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov, imprisoned in Germany, to the proposed swap, a source familiar with the proceedings also told Reuters.
Russia and the United States staged a prisoner swap in April, trading former Marine Trevor Reed for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence in the United States.
Griner was arrested on Feb. 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.
The United States argued she was wrongly detained and being used as a political bargaining chip by Moscow. Russian officials dismissed the U.S. claims, saying Griner had broken Russian law and should be judged accordingly.
Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, said she had made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing her vape cartridges as she rushed to make her flight.
She pleaded guilty to the changes against her but insisted that she did not intend to break Russian law.
Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
«Ці провокаційні дії є значною ескалацією»
The Biden administration on Thursday pushed Congress to pass its proposed $260 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which the White House says will “lower costs, reduce inflation, and address a range of critical and long-standing economic challenges.”
“My message to Congress is this: Listen to the American people,” Biden said during a virtual roundtable of U.S. business leaders. “This is the strongest bill you can pass to lower inflation, continue to cut the deficit, reduce health care costs, tackle the climate crisis and promote America’s energy security, all while reducing the burdens facing working-class and middle-class families.”
Economists, politicians and ordinary consumers alike agree that rising prices are a problem — U.S. inflation hit 9.1% in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food price hikes are especially painful for many American families: In the past year those have risen, on average, by about 10%, the highest yearly increase in more than 40 years.
What few can agree on, however, is what needs to be done to bring it back down.
Biden’s supporters say the act will raise government revenues by $313 billion by imposing a 15 percent minimum corporate tax — a move that will affect some of the nation’s wealthiest companies, especially those that paid nothing in federal corporate income taxes on their profits in 2020.
It will also reform prescription drug pricing, which the administration estimates will save the federal government $288 billion a year. The act also invests more than $400 billion in energy security, climate change mitigation and health care.
The country’s largest union umbrella group, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, supports the act, its president said Thursday during the roundtable with Biden.
“I’m bringing the voice of our 57 unions, 12.5 million members, who believe this bill is going to help us reshape the future and deliver real help to working families by reducing rising energy and health care costs,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “This is going to deliver fundamental economic change across America.”
But some economists are not so sure.
A study from the Penn Wharton Budget Model predicts the act would have little impact on inflation, forecasting prices would slightly increase for another two years and then fall.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reached the opposite conclusion, saying that the act would “very modestly reduce inflationary pressures in the near term while lowering the risk of persistent inflation over time.”
Moody’s Analytics reached a similar conclusion, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would trim U.S. budget deficits by $102 billion over 10 years.
Economist Steve H. Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University and founder and co-director of the university’s Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise, said Thursday that the act is “ill-conceived” and involves the one thing that people seem to dislike more than rising prices: taxes.
“The idea it’s going to do anything with inflation is ridiculous,” he said Thursday during a seminar with the Jewish Policy Center. “It will change the relative prices of different things — exactly how, I don’t know, because I haven’t gone through the 10,000-page thing. And it looks to me like it’s a tax increase bill.”
A Senate vote on the legislation in the next few days appeared more likely late Thursday. Democrats said they had reached an agreement on some changes to the bill, clearing a path for its consideration by the chamber.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat who was seen as the pivotal vote, said in a statement that she had agreed to changes in the measure’s tax and energy provisions. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said he believed the compromise “will receive the support” of all Democrats in the chamber. The party needs unanimity to succeed in the 50-50 Senate, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote.
Schumer has said he hopes the Senate can begin voting on the bill Saturday. Passage by the House, which Democrats control, could come next week.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will launch a three-country tour of Africa on Sunday in South Africa. He is expected to deliver a major speech laying out the Biden administration’s strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa. Experts tell VOA that human rights concerns will likely be high on the agenda. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received a warm reception Thursday in Texas, where he was a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a major event on the calendar of the right wing of the Republican Party.
In remarks that ran for approximately 30 minutes, Orban demonstrated why he has become popular among American conservatives, rattling off a litany of claims and accomplishments that dovetailed with many American conservative voters’ priorities.
Orban touted his country’s low crime rate, its success at preventing immigrants from crossing its borders, its crackdown on the political left, its restrictions on the rights of gay and transgender individuals, and its low taxes.
He cast liberals and progressives as history’s great villains and urged audience members to fight to place “Christian values” at the center of their politics.
“The horrors of Nazism and communism happened because some Western states in continental Europe abandoned their Christian values,” Orban said. “And today’s progressives are planning to do the same. They want to give up on Western values and create a new world — a post-Western world. Who is going to stop them if you don’t?”
Seen as strongman
Orban, 59, began his career as a radical liberal, but over the years he steered the political party Fidesz, which he had helped found, in a more populist and conservative direction. He remains president of the party.
When he became prime minister for the second time in 2010 (he had held the office from 1998 to 2002), Orban moved quickly to consolidate both political and cultural power in Hungary, facilitated by Fidesz’s two-thirds majority in parliament, which allowed it to draft a new constitution.
The revised constitution, which went into effect in 2012, wrote Hungarian nationalism and Christianity into the country’s laws and helped cement Fidesz’s political dominance. A new electoral system was put in place that allowed the party to retain more than two-thirds of the body’s seats in the 2014 elections despite earning 44.5% of the votes cast.
Transparency International has characterized Hungary’s elections as “free but not fair.” Citizens can cast votes, and the votes are accurately counted, but the structure of the system ensures that Fidesz consistently wins representation that far exceeds its share of the votes.
Judicial, press freedom curtailed
In addition to dominating parliament, Orban has restructured the Hungarian judiciary, reducing its independence and installing judges sympathetic to his administration.
At the same time, the government has passed laws limiting freedom of speech and cracking down on independent media. Allies of Orban, meanwhile, have created a pervasive conservative media ecosystem that dominates the airwaves and generally echoes the positions of the Orban government.
“Since returning to power in 2010, Orban has unceasingly attacked media pluralism and independence. After public broadcasting was turned into a propaganda organ, many private media were taken over or silenced,” according to the organization Reporters Without Borders. “The ruling party, Fidesz, has seized de facto control of 80% of the country’s media through political-economic maneuvers and the purchase of news organizations by friendly oligarchs.”
The prime minister’s many critics argue he is an autocrat who has turned his country of 10 million people in the heart of Europe into a near-dictatorship. Orban has also been widely criticized for appointing friends and relatives to positions of authority and for turning a blind eye to corruption among senior leaders.
U.S. President Joe Biden, when campaigning for the presidency, characterized Orban as a “totalitarian” and a “thug.”
Under Orban’s leadership, Hungary has passed laws discriminating against LGBTQ people and has made preserving Hungary’s culture — as Orban defines it — a key element of his mission as prime minister.
His defense of Hungarian culture has, according to his critics, frequently come close to explicit racism.
In a 2018 speech, for example, he said, “We must state that we do not want to be diverse and do not want to be mixed: We do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others. … We do not want to be a diverse country.”
Just last week, in a speech delivered in Romania, Orban criticized other European countries for allowing the “mixing” of people of different races. Referring to Hungary, Orban said, “We are not a mixed race, and we do not want to become a mixed race.”
Those remarks prompted widespread denunciations from other world leaders, particularly within the European Union. One of Orban’s own senior advisers resigned, calling the speech “pure Nazi text.”
Asked about Orban’s comments, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted, “All EU member states, including Hungary, signed up to common global values.”
“Discriminating on the basis of race is to trample on those values,” she said. “The European Union is built on equality, tolerance, justice and fair play.”
Over the past several years, Orban has amassed a considerable following among U.S. conservatives, chief among them former President Donald Trump. Comparing their governing styles, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has described Orban as “Trump before Trump.”
The former president has personally praised Orban on a number of occasions, and on Wednesday he posted pictures of himself with the prime minister, who visited Trump in Florida, on the social media site Truth Social.
“Great spending time with my friend, Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary,” Trump wrote. “We discussed many interesting topics — few people know as much about what is going on in the world today.”
Major figures in American conservative media frequently praise Orban and his policies. Fox News host Tucker Carlson has produced a documentary on Hungary under Orban, met with the leader in Budapest, and even filmed his nightly television show there for a week last year.
‘A lot to learn from Orban’
Rod Dreher, an editor at The American Conservative magazine, characterizes himself as an Orban “booster.” Writing from CPAC in advance of the Hungarian leader’s speech Thursday, he said, “American conservatives have a lot to learn from Orban.”
He continued: “The United States is not Hungary, and some of what works there would not work here. Nevertheless, I appreciate Orban’s aggressive conservatism, especially his social conservatism, when compared with the all-hat-no-cattle version we tend to get from American conservatives. And, I appreciate how Orban instinctively knows that we are in a struggle for the future of Western civilization — and acts like it.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who some point to as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024, is also an admirer of Orban, according to his press secretary.
Last year, DeSantis signed a bill into law that barred public school employees from discussing topics such as homosexuality and transgender identities. The restrictions were so broad that the legislation became known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
At the time, DeSantis’ press secretary suggested the effort was modeled on Orban’s laws in Hungary, saying, “We were watching the Hungarians and were inspired by their legislation.”