Far-right members of the Austrian Parliament Thursday walked out of the legislature during a live video speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in protest of Vienna’s support of Ukraine in the war.
Footage from the event captured the moment when approximately 20 members of the Freedom Party of Austria walked out of Parliament during the speech. Zelenskyy spoke to the Parliament to mark the 400th day of Russian invasion. In their empty desks, members of Parliament (MPs) left signs bearing their party logo, which read “space for neutrality” and “space for peace.”
The leader of the Freedom Party Herbert Kickl argued that the Parliament’s actions were destroying Austria’s heritage of neutrality. Austria’s stance of “permanent neutrality” has long been a legal doctrine and was enshrined within part of its constitution in 1955. The constitution makes clear that “Austria will never in the future accede to any military alliances nor permit the establishment of military bases of foreign states on her territory.”
Critics of the Freedom Party have noted the party’s historic ties to Russia, including a 2016 cooperation agreement which they entered with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party, and 2018 footage of a Freedom Party member–and then foreign minister–Karin Kneissl dancing with Putin at her wedding.