Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hungary Revolt: Background

Via RFE/RL Newsline:

President Vladimir Putin told Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in Sochi on September 18 that "Gazprom guarantees the necessary volume of supplies [of gas] to Hungarian consumers," RIA Novosti and the state-run "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 1 and June 22, 2006). Putin spoke warmly about increasing Hungarian exports to Russia and the two countries' cooperation in the energy sector. He called for further "improvement in the structure of trade," focusing on fuel and energy. The two men also discussed high-technology projects, including nanotechnology, for which a pilot project is under way in Miskolc, Hungary. The Hungarian oil and gas company MOL signed an agreement with Gazprom in Budapest on June 21 on extending the Russian Blue Stream pipeline from Turkey to Europe. Gyurcsany and leading Gazprom officials reviewed the project, as well as the possible construction of a large Russian gas storage facility in Hungary, which Gyurcsany and Putin discussed during the Russian leader's visit to Hungary earlier in 2006. The two men met five times before that. PM

The Russian Embassy in Budapest said on September 19 that the ongoing street protests against Prime Minister Gyurcsany are not anti-Russian in character even though a Russian monument at the venue of the demonstrations was slightly damaged, Interfax reported. The embassy stressed that there is no connection between the protests and the Socialist prime minister's visit to Russia. The sometimes violent demonstrations began after a tape was broadcast on September 17 in which Gyurcsany admitted to a closed meeting of Socialist legislators in May that he and his fellow politicians lied repeatedly to the voters in order to win the 2006 elections and that his party's government accomplished "nothing of which it could be proud" in the past four years, international media reported. The opposition has called for him to resign, which he refuses to do. PM

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