BEREHOVE, Ukraine — When the Hungarian State Opera visited a town just over the border in western Ukraine last month to perform a patriotic opera, 3,000 people in the audience rose to their feet for the playing of the Ukrainian and then Hungarian national anthems. What followed, however, was a striking display of discordant allegiances. The audience, gathered in the Ukrainian town of Berehove in an outdoor amphitheater, stood mute during the Ukrainian hymn and then burst into boisterous song for the anthem of Hungary, a foreign country. The spectacle explains why, whether along Ukraine's border with Russia in the east or on its western frontier with the European Union, border-straddling bonds of language and culture make it so difficult for Ukraine to hang together as a single, unified state. It is a clue as well of the skillful exploitation of nationalist impulses by Hungary's leader, Viktor Orban, to cement his increasingly autocratic rule. Mr. Orban has avoided threats of force to right what he calls historic wrongs that put millions of Hungarians outside their country's border. But the fear is that having positioned himself as the leader of a populist surge across much of Europe with his strident attacks… Read full this story
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