by Edward Steen, S-G. Vienna, April 4, 2022
The world awoke to the full horror of what Putin’s war has done to our neighbours in Ukraine. Russia is now an international pariah which must soon answer for the most terrible crimes of Putin’s war. On the front page of the euro|topics newsletter was the above photo of Bucha, north-west of Kiev, whose sufferings, like Mariupol’s, recall that other unpardonable mass murder described in 1937 by Pablo Picasso in his famous Guernica painting.
euro|topics’ European press review today brings horrified reactions from numerous publications, of which this is perhaps the angriest, from writer Jan Valetov on 24tv.ua – why he has lost all faith in the people of Russia:
“The Russian army is a horde that has come to Ukraine to kill, destroy and loot. They throw corpses to the dogs but bring home stolen toilet bowls and electric meat grinders. The second-biggest army in the world, made up of looters, rapists, murderers, and mercenaries, has shown its true face. … If 75 percent of the population of a country of 140 million support this war and thus approve of what the Russian army is doing in a neighbouring country, then the Russians are terminally ill and belong behind the Iron Curtain, in a cage, not in the civilised world.”
24tv.ua also announces the farewell today in Kiev’s St Michael Cathedral of the renowned Ukrainian documentary filmmaker and photographer Max Levin, whose dead body was found last Friday (April 1).
The weekend delivered the fourth election triumph of Putin’s only friend in the EU, Viktor Orbán, leader of the ruling Fidesz party. His “huge victory” could be seen “from the Moon, but certainly from Brussels as well”, he said in his victory speech, which criticised Brussels bureaucrats but also Ukraine’s President Zelensky, calling them “opponents” – although Hungary has taken in half a million refugees since February. “We never had so many opponents,” he said “Brussels bureaucrats… the international mainstream media, and the Ukrainian president.”
Orban was one of the West’s “enemies within” identified by Prof Fukujama in the interview published on this website a few days ago. Orban, locked in constant battle with the EU, most least about LGBT issues and money, apparently finds Zelensky’s pro-European, liberal attitudes as not to his taste. He has even blocked military aid to Ukraine, and (despite 1956 and all that) has developed a close alliance with Putin and Russian gas.
The broad opposition alliance behind pro-European, Christian conservative opposition candidate Péter Márki-Zay was far behind him, at 35%.
Considering Fidesz’s determined strangulation of free media and hollowing-out of state institutions à la Putin it was nonetheless a remarkable score for someone trying to bring together the hopelessly quarrelsome Hungarian opposition parties.
Meanwhile, another election is looming for French President Emmanuel Macron, whom Putin insulted and belittled during his solo efforts to end the grand guignol in Ukraine.
These , including six-hour phone conversations which Putin called “a torture”, preoccupied Macron for much of the first round of the campaign for the April 10 elections. Cordially-disliked for such technocratic foibes as over-reliance on expensive McKinsey consultants, he is in serious danger of falling victim to another, Trump-like, “enemy within” of Western liberal democracies – Marine Le Pen of the far-right, anti-immigrant Rassemblement national and – like her father – notorious beneficiary of “Moscow gold”.
She said in a tv interview at the weekend that “Putin could become an ally of France again” and an ally “against Islamic fundamentalism if this were to become extremely brutal”. See NYT analysis: “Le Pen surges“.
- EP President in Kiev
- Martens Centre discussion on Orban election/ Hungary, April 7 (Thurs)