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Putin Condemns 1956 Soviet Crackdown in Hungary
Created: 01.03.2006 11:39 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:57 MSK
Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged Moscow’s moral responsibility for the brutal Soviet suppression of the Hungarian uprising 50 years ago, the Associated Press reported.
The Kremlin sent Soviet tanks into Hungary on Nov. 4. 1956, to crush a revolt after Hungarian Prime Minister and Communist reformer Imre Nagy formed a coalition government, proclaimed neutrality, ended censorship, and withdrew from the Warsaw Pact.
The Soviet army installed Janos Kadar as premier. Nagy, who was in power only 10 days, was arrested and later executed. Some 200,000 Hungarians fled the country and many more were imprisoned.
Putin, making the second visit to Hungary by a Russian leader since the collapse of the Soviet Union, noted that his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, had come to Hungary in 1992 and condemned the Soviet role in crushing the revolt.
“Of course, modern Russia is not the Soviet Union, but we can still feel some sort of moral responsibility for these events,” Putin said. “Our task is not to forget the past and to think about the future.”
The marquee event of Putin’s two-day visit was the formal return of a trove of priceless, centuries-old books seized by the Soviet Army during World War II and taken to Russia. Budapest has long demanded them. But lurking below the surface was the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Soviet invasion.
President Laszlo Solyom and an honor guard welcomed the Russian leader at the presidential residence. Putin later joined Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and other officials at parliament, and the two leaders hailed an ongoing thaw after years of cool relations following the Soviet breakup.
Gyurcsany said during his talks with Putin that the time had come to heal wounds from the Soviet period.
“With this visit, the past has come to a close,” Gyurcsany said.
Budapest has moved more slowly in its post-communist reform process, compared with Poland, which has angered Moscow with strident pro-Western orientation.
Hungary has integrated itself into Western alliances and trade blocs, joining the European Union two years ago and NATO in 1999. The country also sent troops to Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition there.
Putin and Gyurcsany oversaw the signing of more than a half-dozen agreements on telecommunications, migration, cultural ties and debt repayment.
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