Hungarian opposition stages big protest
( AP ) - Tens of thousands joined in a peaceful protest by Hungary's main center-right opposition party Tuesday, the 61st anniversary of the start of the 1956 anti-Soviet revolution and a year after police violently broke up another anti-government demonstration.
The gathering of Fidesz supporters also came a day after clashes between police and far-right protesters in which 19 people were injured, including 14 officers and three news photographers.
Political tensions in Hungary have been high for a year, since state radio broadcast parts of a secret speech by Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in which he admitted lying about the economy's weakness to win parliamentary elections in April 2006.
On last year's revolution anniversary, dozens of Fidesz supporters on their way home after a similar rally were injured when police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse more than 1,000 people from an unrelated demonstration who tried to march on the parliament building.
Several police officers were filmed last year beating protesters and bystanders, but efforts to prosecute or discipline them were thwarted because many wore ski masks covering their faces and their uniforms lacked ID numbers.
Fidesz leader Viktor Orban said Tuesday that police and government officials would someday be brought to justice for the 2006 clash, but he also called for a halt to violence by protesters. "Violence is beneath us and only results in more violence," he said.
A few hours after the Fidesz rally ended, about 200 far-right supporters threw rocks and bottles at police near parliament and were driven away with tear gas.
Orban accused Gyurcsany's government of driving this former Soviet bloc country into poverty and a social crisis.
"All we've had for years is crises, suffering and exasperation," he told a crowd estimated at 250,000 by organizers and 30,000 by police.
While Gyurcsany continues to enjoy support from the governing coalition, his popularity has dwindled amid economic austerity measures introduced to cut the state budget deficit, the largest in the European Union the past few years.