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Hungary Summons Ukrainian Ambassador Over Arson Attack


A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the building and caused a fire that destroyed most of the ground floor.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the building and caused a fire that destroyed most of the ground floor.

Hungary's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to warn against rising "extremism" after an ethnic Hungarian cultural center in western Ukraine was attacked for the second time in a month.

The headquarters of an ethnic Hungarian cultural association was set on fire overnight in Uzhhorod, capital of the Transcarpathia region, according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown into the building and caused a fire that destroyed most of the ground floor, MTI said. There were no reports of injuries.

The building also suffered minor damage in an attack on February 4, when an unidentified person threw a Molotov cocktail through the window.

"Extremist political views" are gaining ground in Ukraine and intimidating ethnic Hungarians, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told public television channel M1 on February 27.

"All of this is unacceptable." Szijjarto said

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin wrote on Twitter early on February 27, "I firmly denounce yet another provocation in Uzhhorod against the Hungarian minority office."

Meanwhile, Polish news agency PAP reported on February 27 that Poland's domestic security agency, ABW, had detained three Poles suspected of perpetrating the arson attack against the cultural center in Uzhhorod.

"The ABW is investigating various aspects related to the attempted arson attack against the Hungarian Culture Association's building in Ukraine. International contacts of the detainees are being examined among other things," ABW spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn told PAP.

More than 100,000 ethnic Hungarians live in Transcarpathia, mostly in towns and villages close to the Hungarian border.

The attacks come as Budapest and Kyiv remain at odds over an education law passed by Ukraine in September 2017 that Hungary and Romania say restricts the right of Ukraine's Hungarian and Romanian ethnic minorities to be educated in their native language.

Kyiv maintains the law is meant to ensure that all Ukrainian citizens can speak the state's official language, and it denies that the law is discriminatory.

Ukraine has also criticized Budapest's move to block cooperation between Kyiv and both the European Union and the NATO until the dispute is resolved.

Szijjarto said on February 27 that Ukraine must prove it is able to "keep extremists at bay" if it wants closer ties with NATO and the EU.

Some critics in Ukraine have accused Hungary of acting in the interest of Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin is regularly hosted in Budapest by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

With reporting by AFP and Interfax
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