June 16. 2024. 2:02

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Austrian far-right MPs walk out of Zelenskyy speech


Far-right lawmakers walked out of parliament Thursday as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an online address thanking the country for its support.

Zelenskyy addressed Austria’s parliament Thursday after lawmakers had long failed to agree on whether Ukraine’s president could, or should speak to parliamentarians.

“Thank you, Austria,” said Zelenskyy, thanking the country for treating soldiers and donating through the “neighbour in need” scheme.

“Thank you for your support in mine clearance and medical treatment in Ukraine,” he added.

Austria welcomed 94,000 Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s invasion of the country. More than 50,000 stayed and continue to receive government support, the Interior Ministry says.

But Zelenskyy’s speech did not please everyone, as the far-right FPÖ left the room in protest.

Leaving behind signs that said “space for peace” and “space for neutrality,” the far-right accused Zelenskyy of war crimes, saying he should not be allowed to bring “propaganda” into parliament.

Austria’s far-right is historically close to the Kremlin as party leaders have visited Russia more than once and, in 2016, signed a cooperation agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party.

Though it did not engage in active protest, the social democrat SPÖ was largely absent, including party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner, alongside more than 20 of her 40 party members. Parliament’s president later said she was absent due to illness.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de)