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Hungary Aims To Cut Gas Use By 25% As Energy Crisis Persists

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff has signaled the government's intention to curb most institutional and commercial gas consumption by one-quarter "as fast as possible" as cutoffs and other energy fallout spread from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Gergely Gulyas announced the 25-percent target -- with exceptions for hospitals and social institutions -- along with a call for Hungarian consumers to use electricity and gas sparingly.

He warned that potential collapses among small businesses attributable to rising energy bills could spark mass unemployment.

Gulyas also said Budapest would control firewood prices so households can stock up as winter approaches.

National populist Orban and his politically dominant Fidesz party have resisted EU moves to ban Russian gas and oil and have put up numerous roadblocks to several rounds of talks on EU sanctions to punish President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked war on Ukraine.

Hungary gets more than 80 percent of its gas from Russia and is a transit country for the world's longest oil pipeline, the Druzhba pipeline from Russia through Hungary and a handful of other EU countries on its route to Germany.

In charge for most of the past two decades, Orban has increasingly cozied up to Putin for several years as rule-of-law, media freedom, human rights, and other politically charged disputes with the European Union have mounted.

With Russian deliveries reduced or halted to most European states that have imposed sanctions on Russia, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said late last month that Russian state monopoly Gazprom would increase its gas supplies to Hungary in September and October.

The European Union has already agreed to ban more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports.

An EU ban on Russian coal purchases went into effect in August.

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By RFE/RL

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