The Russian Orthodox Church, at the request of Budapest, transported several soldiers held in captivity in Russia to Hungary, and the operation was coordinated by Mr. Zsolt Semjén. The Deputy Prime Minister, who is also responsible for religious affairs, made a statement regarding the incident.
– According to a statement issued by the Russian Orthodox Church: “His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, with the blessings of the Russian Orthodox Church and as part of the cooperation between the churches, in response to the request of the Hungarian side, a group of Ukrainian prisoners of war who participated in hostilities and are of Transcarpathian origin were transported to Hungary.” You coordinated the rescue of the 11 Transcarpathian Hungarians but did not disclose any details, referring to “the interest of the case and the people.”
– We are grateful to Metropolitan Hilarion. I spoke with him first, and everything was done within the framework of church relations, with the professional assistance of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta. So, this was a gesture of the Russian Orthodox Church towards Hungary, and these people owe their freedom to this good relationship. It was my human, Christian, and patriotic duty!
– Ukraine expressed displeasure that the decision and the action were not coordinated with the Ukrainian government.
– Obviously, if we involved Ukraine, nothing would have come of it.
– The Ukrainians phrased it as, “these soldiers are Ukrainian citizens, so their transfer to any third country is impossible without Ukraine’s consent and direct involvement.”
– Then why would it be impossible? Everyone can see that we did it! It is our constitutional duty to take care of every Hungarian citizen, every Hungarian, and, in general, every human being within our means. According to the Ukrainians, should we have left them in Russian captivity?!?
– From the Ukrainian perspective, they may be considered deserters?
– From the Hungarian perspective, they are refugees! Like hundreds of thousands of people who fled from the war in Ukraine. We grant refugee status to everyone, without asking whether they are soldiers or not. And, of course, we do not disclose any information about them.
– The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Hungarian chargé d’affaires regarding the 11 prisoners of war.
– As I mentioned in my statement before, the 11 Transcarpathians are no longer “prisoners of war” in Hungary; they are free individuals. In Hungary, they receive assistance, not “detention.” They decide freely what they want to do. I should note that if I were Ukraine’s representative, I would express gratitude for this.