Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia were wrong, Putin says


Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia were wrong.

Speaking at a forum in eastern Russia, he said it is not right to do anything in foreign policy that harms the interests of other people.

His remarks come as Russian troops continue fighting in Ukraine.

The Soviet Union invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 following mass protests and demands for greater freedoms.

President Putin made the comments at the Eastern Economic Forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok on Tuesday.

A moderator asked him how he would respond to those who say the Soviet Union behaved like a colonial power when it sent tanks into Prague in 1968 and Budapest in 1956.

Mr Putin said: “We acknowledged a long time ago that that part of the Soviet policy was mistaken and only led to tension in relations. One must not do anything in foreign policy that comes in direct contradiction with the interests of other peoples.”

Mr Putin went on to say that countries in the West, primarily the US, were now making the same mistake as the Soviets made then.

“They put pressure on their allies, so-called partners. They have no friends. They only have interests. That is a continuation of a well-known British formula,” he said.

Mr Putin’s comments about the Soviet Union’s actions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia appear to contradict the views of some within his inner circle.

In August, a history textbook written by one of Mr Putin’s advisers, Vladimir Medinsky, claimed that the 1956 Hungarian Revolution was a fascist uprising organised by the West and said that the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary in 1990 had been a mistake.

Hungarian politicians and historians criticised the textbook.

Szilard Demeter, the director of the Petofi Literary Museum, said that “inhumane dictatorships will still be inhumane and dictatorships, even if someone starts to portray them in a positive light.”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó commented: “There are issues in Hungarian history on which we won’t even start a debate with anyone. The Revolutionaries of 1956 are our heroes.”

The Soviet Union was made up of 15 countries but counted several more satellite states, including Hungary and Czechoslovakia, within its sphere of