|Riots tear Budapest apart |
London Evening Standard | September 19, 2006
Violence: Demonstrators stormed the state television headquarters
More than 10,000 demonstrators clashed with police and stormed the state television headquarters in Budapest in the early hours today in protest against the government.
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Police fired tear gas and used water cannon after being showered with bottles and stones. Cars were set alight with petrol bombs. More than 50 demonstrators and 100 policemen were injured in riots in the Hungarian capital which is a popular destination for British holidaymakers.
The violence was sparked by socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's admission that he had lied "day and night" to win power in April's elections. As the government met in an emergency session of the national security cabinet today, Mr Gyurcsany vowed to remain in power.
He said he would crack down on any repetition of the disorder, adding: "We have to contain that conflict and prevent crisis." Hungarians gathered outside the parliament yesterday evening to demand his resignation. But the peaceful demonstration turned into a night of violence.
Protesters set the television building on fire and then forced their way in after the fire was put out. There were reports of looting with computers being carried out of the TV headquarters.
"It will go on like this until Gyurcsany resigns," said one protester. "Tomorrow, twice as many people will come." Another said: "Nothing like this has happened since 1956," referring to the failed uprising against Soviet rule in 1956.
The worst incidence of violence since the fall of the Communist regime 17 years ago followed the publication of a leaked tape. In it Mr Gyurcsany, who campaigned on a promise of tax cuts only to impose £2 billion of tax rises and benefit cuts, says: "We lied in the morning and in the evening." He admits that his government has achieved nothing since coming to power.
The main Right-of-centre opposition party Fidesz reiterated calls that Mr Gyurcsany should resign today. "There is a moral crisis unfolding," said the party's leader Tibor Navracsics.
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