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The Daily Vertical: When Vladimir Meets Viktor (Transcript)


The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

When Vladimir meets Viktor in Budapest today, it will be a meeting of the minds.

Under the banner of "sovereign democracy," Vladimir Putin has emasculated Russia's post-Soviet democratic institutions and established an autocracy.

And under the banner of "illiberal democracy," Viktor Orban is in the process of hollowing out Hungary's postcommunist democratic institutions.

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Putin is scornful of individual liberties, which he sees as subordinate to the organic unity of the Russian state and traditional values.

Orban has said that the "Hungarian nation is not simply a collection of individuals but a community that needs to be organized," and has derided the permissiveness of Western liberalism.

Putin prefers not to deal with the European Union or NATO as blocs but instead seeks to cut bilateral deals with individual European states.

Orban has said that "the era of multilateralism is over and the era of bilateral relations is upon us."

Putin calls for a multipolar international order.

And Orban speaks about a new international paradigm with multiple centers of power.

Putin wants sanctions against Russia lifted. And Orban says sanctions should be lifted.

You would almost think these two are stealing each other's talking points.

Orban is considerably taller than Putin. But in many ways, he's becoming Putin's Mini-Me.

Back in 1989, Hungary was among the first of the Soviet Union's Eastern European satellites to escape Moscow's orbit -- and Orban was at the forefront of that rebellion.

And just over a quarter century later, he's become the main standard bearer for Putinism in Europe.

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