On October 8-9, Hungarian State Secretary for National Policy Arpad Janos Potapi, campaigned for the KMKS Party of Hungarians of Ukraine during a visit to Zakarpattia, including some facilities in Uzhhorod, as well as Uzhhorod and Berehovo raions. Civil Network OPORA has noted a number of facts that violate Ukrainian legislation, and appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to paragraph 4(4-1.6b, 86) of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine #281 “On Approval of the Regulations on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ensures national interests and international security of Ukraine by maintaining peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign states based on generally accepted principles and norms of international law; can make statements, comments and explanations on foreign policy of Ukraine; and considers citizen appeals related to activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Thus, Article 57(1.1) of the Election Code prohibits foreigners and stateless persons from participating in election campaigning, including through journalistic activities or participation in concerts, performances, sports competitions, and other public events held in support or with the support of a candidate (candidates) or their nominating entity.
At the same time, official observers of the Civil Netwrok OPORA have detected the following facts indicating that Arpad Janos Potapi had violated Ukrainian laws:
1. On 9 October, the KMKS Party of Hungarians of Ukraine had informed on its official website about a visit of Hungarian State Secretary for National Policy Arpad Janos Potapi (the State Secretary has been working in the Apparatus of the Prime Minister since 2014, and is responsible for the national policy) to a Hungarian-language school in Uzhgorod. The publication quoted Potapi, who called to support the KMKS Party of Hungarians of Ukraine in the local elections in Ukraine on 25 October 2020.
The material on the site was posted in Hungarian, so we give an unofficial translation of the above quote: "As for the upcoming elections in Ukraine, the State Secretary said it is very important that Hungarians in Zakarpattia support Hungarian candidates in Ukrainian municipal elections on 25 October. Arpad Janos Potapi believes it's especially important to support the KMKS candidates, as the Hungarians in Ukraine can preserve and strengthen the positions they have gained today." - the publication says.
2. On October 10, Facebook page of the same party posted a video with the State Secretary of Hungary on National Policy calling on Hungarians living in Zakarpattia to support the KMKS Party of Hungarians of Ukraine in the local elections.
AS long as the video is published exclusively in Hungarian, we provide the Hungarian text of the video and its unofficial translation below.
"A KMKSZ 1989-ben jött létre ma a legrégebben működő civil szervezet egész Ukrajnában így nyilván Kárpátalján is. Azz itt élő magyarságot fogja össze, a legfontosabb érdekvédelmi szervezete, a magyar kormánynak a szövetséges partnere, Október 25-én nagyon fontos választásokra kerül sor, azt gondolom, hogy a magyaroknak meg kell erősíteniük a politikai intézményrendszerüket is. Ezért én kérek mindenkit, hogy menjen el szavazni, válassza a magyar jelölteket és támogassa a KMKSZ-t," - he says in the published video.
"KMKS was established in 1989 and today is the oldest non-governmental organization in the whole territory of Ukraine and, respectively, in Zakarpattia as well. It unites Hungarians living here, its most important advocacy organization, an allied partner of the Hungarian government. Very important elections will take place on October 25, and I believe the Hungarians must also strengthen their political institutional system. That is why I ask everyone to come to the polls, choose Hungarian candidates and support the KMKS.", - an unofficial translation of what was said on the video.
3. On October 9, the party's website posted information about Potapi's visit to the nursery school in Velykyi Bereznyi. The article also quotes the State Secretary of Hungary, calling to participate in 25 October elections and support the Hungarians, because it will help to continue the already successful cooperation.
“Potápi Árpád János nemzetpolitikáért felelős államtitkár elismeréssel szólt a Nagybereznai Óvodának kialakított épületben elvégzett munkáról. Az államtitkár hangsúlyozta, ahhoz, hogy az intézményrendszerünk hosszú távon is működhessen szükséges, hogy erős érdekképviseletünk legyen mindenütt, ahol magyarok élnek. Arra kért minden kárpátaljait, hogy az október 25-ei választásokon a KMKSZ jelöltjeit támogassák, mert ez teremti meg az alapjait az összefogásnak és az együttgondolkodásnak,” - the publication says.
Unofficial translation: "State Secretary for National Policy Janos Arpad Potapi gave praised the work done in premises of future nursery in Velykyi Bereznyi. The State Secretary emphasized that to make our institutional system function in the long run, we should have a clear representation of interests, wherever Hungarians live. He asked all his citizens of Zakarpattia to support the KMKS candidates in 25 October elections, as this would create a basis for cooperation and common thinking."
4. The page of the State Secretary of Hungary Potapy published on 7 October a post calling to support the KMKS Party of Hungarians of Ukraine in 25 October local elections.
“Nagyon fontos, hogy az október 25-ei ukrajnai önkormányzati választásokon a kárpátaljai magyarok a magyar jelölteket támogassák AKMKSZ - Kárpátaljai Magyar Kulturális Szövetség jelöltjeinek támogatása azért különösen fontos, mert így a kárpátaljai magyarság meg tudja őrizni, vagy akár erősíteni eddigi pozícióit. Hajrá kárpátaljai magyarok! Hajrá KMKSZ!”, - is written in the post.
Unofficial translation: "It is very important that Hungarians in Zakarpattia support Hungarian candidates in Ukrainian local elections on 25 October. The support of candidates from the KMKS, cultural association of Hungarians in Zakarpattia, is especially important to maintain or even strengthen their positions."
5. Various materials were posted on the official Facebook page and on website of the party. In particular, a material about a visit to a nursery or school. However, these texts quoted the Secretary of State campaigning for the KMKS party of Party of Hungarians of Ukraine - where, he called on the Hungarians in Zakarpattia to come to the local elections on 25 October and support the KMKS party.
A post with a similar text is posted on the politician's Facebook page, and there is also a video where Mr. Potapi addresses the Hungarians in Zakarpattia in Hungarian language and asks to support the KMKS. The video is posted on the party's Facebook page.
It is also published on site karpat.in.ua, which is close to “KMKS. Party of Hungarians of Ukraine ”, at: http://politic.karpat.in.ua/?p=11902&fbclid=IwAR0yrsCTbt9FsVjZ3lsv7CkWggasazPqp_5Rgu1D8N8zFAcgFNaBjQ3IPVw&lang=uk - the publication titled: "Potapi in Zakarpattia: local Hungarians should support Hungarian candidates", which says: "The politician believes it's especially important to support the KMKS candidates, as the Hungarians in Ukraine can preserve and strengthen the positions they have gained today. The Secretary of State said that if the political institutional system is trusted by the Hungarians of Zakarpattia, it will be able to do a lot to reach its goals. Stressing the importance of national unity, he mentioned the development of educational, cultural, social, health care and political institutions. Arpad Janos Potapi said that three nursery schools will be handed on Wednesday in Zakarpattia. They were renewed under the Program of the preschool educational institution development in the Carpathian Basin: educational complex "Harmony" in Uzhorod, nursery "Rainbow" in Perechyn and a nursery in Velykyi Bereznyi."
6. Website "Carpathian Lens", owned by the Society of Hungarian Culture of Zakarpattia - http://politika.ko.net.ua/?p=11201&fbclid=IwAR3eou6KUMqHhpOEYMbmOZfFJMkTvwVKbF-nId9VyynIA7DqXfZUA8TfkEk - placed a similar in content material, which states, in particular: "It is very important that Hungarians in Zakarpattia support Hungarian candidates in Ukrainian local elections on 25 October, said State Secretary of Hungary for National Policy Arpad Janos Potapi on his two-day visit to the oblast in a phone interview with MTI agency"; "The politician believes it's especially important to support the KMKS candidates, as the Hungarians in Ukraine can preserve and strengthen the positions they have gained today. The Secretary of State said that if the political institutional system is trusted by the Hungarians of Zakarpattia, it will be able to do a lot to reach its goals. Stressing the importance of national unity, he mentioned the development of educational, cultural, social, health care and political institutions."
According to the legal assessment of experts from the Civil Network OPORA, these publications testify that actions of the State Secretary of Hungary for National Policy Arpad Janos Potapi have features of violation of campaigning rules on the territory of Ukraine.
Civil Network OPORA calls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine:
- to assess the actions of a high-ranking representative of foreign state corps regarding his compliance with the legislation of Ukraine in the field of elections;
- take measures provided by law within the competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.