Hungary’s large-scale disinformation campaign targeting Ukraine

Several Hungarian politicians and mass media spread false information and anti-Ukrainian narratives. The organization “Hungarian Community for Peace” is reportedly preparing provocations.

The Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine posted a message that the Hungarian media started a disinformation campaign to discredit Ukraine and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We decided to find out what kind of media it is and what narratives it spreads.

KarpatHir’s disinformation campaign against Ukraine

Karpathir.com – Hungarian-language media about the Transcarpathia region – is the most actively distributing provocative materials. According to information on the website, the media is based in Uzhhorod; it is financed by the Magyar Szív – Magyar Szó foundation, which supports Carpathian communities and Hungarian cultural heritage.

During the last week, the publication published several materials with bright headlines compromising the Ukrainian government and the armed forces. Their central narrative: the Ukrainians, under the guise of war, are trying to solve internal problems, namely the Hungarian national community, by sending its representatives to their deaths.

The publication PestiSracok highlighted the same topics and filmed an entire report from Transcarpathia, publishing it under the heading: “Men in Transcarpathia are herded like cattle.”

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“Men in Transcarpathia are herded like cattle.”

PestiSracok journalists do not show their interlocutor. He was simply blindsided, and his voice was changed, at his request for security reasons, because the man talks about the “horror life of Transcarpathian Hungarians under the oppression of the Kyiv regime.” This narrative goes in line with the Kremlin propaganda against Ukraine.

The emotional component in the plot prevails over the facts. The entire material is full of evaluative judgments based on the words of the “obscured”. For greater persuasiveness, photos are published that are supposed to be proof but do not prove anything.

There are people in uniform in a cafe. PestiSracok’s version: the police and the military are giving nightmares to people in one of Berehova’s establishments called “The Cube.” There is no such establishment in Berehove. Still, there is one in Uzhhorod – a pizzeria called “Kub” with a design very similar to the one in the photo.

Most likely, the authors mistake Uzhgorod for Berehove since this town is home to the biggest Hungarian minority community in Transcarpathia, Ukraine. This confirms their narrative about the mass mobilization of Hungarians to the Ukrainian army.

Referring to the materials, the news was picked up by other Hungarian publications: Origo, Sonline, Promenad24, Magyar Nemzet, Mandiner. And the Russian media followed them. In the Russian information space, another fake story about the “criminal” mobilization of Hungarians in Transcarpathia is being actively spread, based on the reports of local Hungarian journalists.

At the same time, the Hungarian mass media spread the topic about the losses of the 128th Mountain Infantry Brigade, based in the city of Mukachevo in Transcarpathia.

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  “Hundreds of dead soldiers’ bodies are stored in refrigerated wagons in Transcarpathia, just a few hundred meters from the border with Hungary”

They report that Mukachevo morgues are overcrowded and the Ukrainian authorities are allegedly forced to store bodies for several weeks or months in refrigerators near the Hungarian border.

However, the journalists admit that they could not find the refrigerators. As a confirmation of this, they refer to the Al-Jazeera video report from May 9, 2022, which shows refrigerators with dead soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces, which the Russian authorities refuse to take away.

Hungarian government supported disinformation spread by media

Hungarian politicians also supported the narratives in the mass media. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Szijjarto, stated that Transcarpathian Hungarians are “harshly” being mobilized into the Armed Forces and many of them are dying, in particular, due to heavy losses in the mentioned 128th brigade.

And this is happening, according to Szijjarto, because Budapest insists on peace negotiations, but Kyiv ignores this proposal.

At the same time, the Hungarian State Secretary for National Policy, Tamas Mentser, accused the Ukrainian authorities of allegedly not stopping the anti-Hungarian actions in Transcarpathia, which would prevent Ukraine from becoming a member of the European Union. The statements of Szijarto and Menzer were widely reported not only by the Hungarian media but also by the Russian media.

Hungarian activists plan a protest at the Ukrainian embassy

The culmination of the anti-Ukrainian campaign in Hungary would be a manifestation planned for January 28 in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Budapest.

The organization, “Hungarian Community for Peace, “has organized the protest.” They say that the manifestation targets the “Kyiv regime”‘s use of Transcarpathian Hungarians as “cannon fodder” in the war.

In their announcement, the organizers claim that Kyiv is “sending thousands of Hungarians to certain death” and they “want to protect the anti-Hungarian Ukrainian neo-Nazi government.” The actions attributed to the Ukrainian authorities are called “the massacre of Transcarpathia and the entire Hungarian people.”

The messages spread by the Hungarian media and politicians are widely reproduced in the Russian media and are aimed at inciting inter-ethnic hatred between Ukrainians and Hungarians in Transcarpathia.

For Hungary, promoting the topic of “oppression” by Ukrainians is flirting with Viktor Orban’s electorate, followers of “Greater Hungary” and Trianon revanchism. For Moscow, this is a standard propaganda campaign aimed at destabilizing Europe and undermining its efforts to support Ukraine.

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