Poland’s most powerful politician, Jarosław Kaczyński, criticized Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Friday for refusing to condemn Russia for the massacres of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine.
“My assessment is unequivocally negative – I have to admit that this is all very sad,” Kaczyński, deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, told Radio Plus. “When Orbán says he can’t see what happened to Bucha, he should be advised to see an ophthalmologist.”
In his first press conference after winning a fourth term on Wednesday, Orbán said he had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to demand an “immediate ceasefire” in Ukraine, but also refused to explicitly condemn the Russia for the Bucha events, saying an investigation should come first because “we live in a time of mass manipulation.”
After Russian troops withdrew last week from Bucha, a town just outside kyiv, Ukrainian authorities discovered roads lined with the bodies of people tied up and shot at close range, as well as mass graves of local residents. Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed claims that their troops were responsible, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Tuesday the scenes were a “provocation” by Ukraine intended to disrupt ongoing peace talks.
The war in Ukraine has put a strain on the usually close alliance between Poland and Hungary, with Orbán’s continued close ties to Putin in particular drawing the ire of Warsaw. Poland has been one of Europe’s staunchest supporters of a Russian energy embargo, while Hungary has rejected such a move, calling it a “red line”.
Still, Orbán struck a conciliatory tone toward Warsaw in his Wednesday speech, saying “Hungary’s alliance with Poland must be solidified because we cannot stand alone in this storm.”
The two populist-ruled countries shield each other from EU efforts to get them to conform to the rule of law and democratic standards of the bloc.
But in Friday’s interview, Kaczyński again criticized the Hungarian leader’s continued dialogue with Putin and warned it could have implications for the Warsaw-Budapest alliance.
“We cannot cooperate as we have done in the past if this continues,” he said.