About 2,000 people have marched through the Hungarian capital, Budapest, ahead of the meeting between Prime Minister, Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. BBC reports:
Tuesday’s visit is Mr Putin’s first to an EU leader since June 2014. Hungary wants to negotiate a new agreement for Russian gas supplies. Russia has been largely shunned by EU member states because of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, although it denies accusations of fomenting the violence. Protesters rallied in Budapest on Monday night carrying banners saying “Putin No! Europe Yes!”.
Much of the city centre was closed to traffic on Tuesday as security was stepped up ahead of the visit. Mr Putin’s trip comes less than a fortnight after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Budapest before embarking on a week of intense diplomacy, which resulted in the announcement of a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian president is keen to demonstrate that he has allies within the EU and Nato, observers say. During his visit, he is due to visit the graves of Soviet soldiers. Hungary has backed EU sanctions imposed on Russia over the situation in Ukraine, but has been vocal about their negative impact.