Riots in Hungary

A weblog about the current Hungarian riots.

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2006.09.22. 06:47 | riotsinhungary

Yesterday was the first violence-free night in Budapest since Sunday. Super!

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Wednesday Night Fever

2006.09.21. 16:37 | ike

Another night, another fight: this time, protesters picked two squares, Oktogon and Nyugati tér to clash with police.

Demonstrators at Nyugati pályaudvar (Western railway station)...

..face police forces that arrive at Nagykörút by the truckload.

The police lineup says 'don't mess with us'

The rush is impressive and well-coordinated

They do take prisoners.

More Wednesday night pictures by István Huszti

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Gyurcsány on CNN

2006.09.21. 14:52 | ike

Aside from the short but definitely funny appearance of Hungarian ambassador András Simonyi on the Colbert Nation (watch the show here) rarely has a prominent Hungarian figure appeared on any major US station. Until now. Gyurcsány was interviewed by CNN’s Nic Robertson on Thursday. General performance? Horrible gestures, face buried in hands, bad English and a constant refusal to explain what it feels like to lie for so long. Did the message come through? Was there a message in the first place? Oh, sure. The message is that things are complicated.

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Riots Continue, Cops Get their Act Together

2006.09.20. 14:51 | ike

By Tuesday evening, thousands of peaceful protesters gathered around Parliament, as usual; meanwhile, a 500-strong radical group targeted Köztársaság tér (Republic square), where the ruling Socialist Party is headquartered.  For the thousands of riot policemen now stationed in Budapest, they proved to be a piece of cake: the square was hermetically closed, so the group moved on towards Blaha Lujza tér along Rákóczi út.

Here's what happened next:

This time, cops were equipeed with CN tear gas grenades instead of the more protester-friendly CS deployed at the MTV siege the previous day.

They also recieved canine support...

... plus horses just to make sure they remain on top of the situation.

They did remain on top...

... with a few exceptions. Blood count: 97 injuries, 98 arrests.

View more pictures about the Tuesday night riot

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Blood, Sweat and Tear Gas

2006.09.20. 10:21 | ike

Watch how total mayhem evolves in front of the MTV headquarters.

Download video in Quicktime format.

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President: Rioters are Criminals

2006.09.19. 23:15 | ike

While some protesters call the MTV siege a "revolution" and compare it to the 1956 uprising, President László Sólyom on Tuesday sets the record straight:

"These are criminal acts that cannot be justified."

Sólyom says the state must protect its institutions and its citizens from such incidents, and he attributes the events to the small number of policemen and the lack of proper equipment.  Sólyom states that a line must be drawn between basic human rights (such as the freedom of expression) and criminal activities.

In a television interview, former Budapest police chief János Bodrácska says the water cannon vehicle deployed at the MTV building is several decades old and was imported under the socialist regime from Poland.

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Demolition Derby - video by

2006.09.19. 22:10 | ike

Download video in Quicktime format.

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Under Siege - All Photo Galleries

2006.09.19. 20:56 | ike

Siege of the Hungarian State Television

- Photo gallery 1 - Pictures by Tamás Szémann (
- Photo gallery 2 - Pictures by István Huszti (
- Photo gallery 3 - Pictures by Dániel Németh (
- Photo gallery 4 - Pictures by Boglárka Katona (
- Photo gallery 5 - Pictures by Boglárka Katona (
- Photo gallery 6 - Pictures by Boglárka Katona (

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The Siege in Pictures

2006.09.19. 15:04 | ike

Peaceful demonstrators gather around the Hungarian Parliament Monday afternoon to protest Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's leaked speech and demand his resignation.

Later into the evening, a few hundred protesters, many of whom later identified as football hooligans, decide to move in front of the Hungarian State Television building, only a few blocks from Parliament.

Outnumbered, riot police try to protect the building. Protesters throw bottles, cans and objects found around Szabadság tér at policemen.

Police send a water cannon vehicle into the midst of the crowd, but the car gets stuck in the mud it creates. Policemen suppposed to protect the vehicle flee from the scene. Rioters occupy the water cannon, set it on fire but eventally rescue the policeman stuck inside the burning car, waving flags and chanting "Hungarian cop with us".

Cars of MTV employees parked outside are set on fire and soon one of the building's windows is in flames as well. Unwilling to risk their lives, fire brigades initially refuse to put out the fire.

Police find cover in the building and eventually surrender. Rioters get inside, occupy the  offices, trash the furniture, steal whatever they find and loot the buffet.

Losses include computers, damage to the TV archives and two bottles of fine wine from MTV President Zoltán Rudi's office.

About 140 people, most of them policemen, suffer minor injuries. Two policemen are hospitalized with serious wounds. Police forces from all over the country are moved to Budapest; by early Tuesday morning, they clear the building and hermetically close Szabadság tér.

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The Siege - Stage 2

2006.09.19. 12:21 | ike

Violence erupted in a matter of minutes. A clearly identifiable, about 500-strong group tried to storm the building, but were pushed back by a small police force. From the beginning it was obvious that the rioters, many of them wearing typical football hooligan clothing, were more interested in the violence itself than in any political statement.

Outnumbered, police were attacked with rocks, sticks and bottles, and were forced to retreat into the building. A truck mounted with a water cannon was brought in, but the rioters quickly set it on fire, just like they did with the cars parked in front of the building. The police defending the building tried to barricade themselves, but finally had to give in, and the rioters managed to get in. Massive looting and vandalism ensued, a large police force was only able to enter the building after those who had laid siege to it left on their own will.

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All Hell Breaks Loose

2006.09.19. 10:59 | riotsinhungary

On Monday, September 18th the worst violence since the 1956 uprising broke out on the streets of Budapest. What started out as another peaceful night of demonstrations with about 15 000 people in front of the Parliament building in central Budapest quickly degenerated into full-blown streetfightig, which left more than 100 policemen and dozens of rioters injured.


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Trouble started when a small, extreme-right wing group showed up at the building of the Hungarian State Television (Magyar Televízió, MTV), and demanded its leaders to broadcast the group's manifesto regarding the current political situation. When security staff didn't even let them into the building, a part of the crowd concentrated near the Parliament walked over to the channel's headquarters, just a couple of blocks away.

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Moral Crisis - Whatever that may be

2006.09.18. 12:55 | riotsinhungary

After the first night of demonstrations, President László Sólyom gave a short press conference, where he strongly condemned Gyurcsány's admission of lying to his fellow Hungarians.

President László Sólyom: "Yesterday's news have pushed the country into a moral crisis, which is only made worse by the prime minister's reactions".

Leaders of the governing socialist party, as well as their coalition partners from the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) are asking all demonstrators on the streets of Budapest to go home. They also accuse Viktor Orbán's Fidesz of instigating the demonstrations. According to Fidesz, the demonstrations have nothing to do with the party, however, they "understand why people are this desperate".

Fidesz representatives are concentrating on the upcoming local elections on October 1. They say this will give a chance to voters to show how disillusioned they are with the job the Gyurcsány government is doing. Fidesz believes that if they manage to beat the socialists by a very large margin (which, according to opinion polls, is not impossible), the socialists will be forced to resign.

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Out in the Streets

2006.09.18. 02:07 | riotsinhungary

Gyurcsány's speech has immediately sparked outrage. All opposition parties are demanding the prime minister's resignation. The most vocal is the largest of them, Fidesz, and its leader, ex-prime minister Viktor Orbán. Gyurcsány however told journalists that he didn't think about resignation at all, even though he still stands by everything he said in the leaked speech.

On the evening of September 17, a crowd started gathering in central Budapest, in front of the Parliament building. This demonstration remained peaceful, but it's already clear that the people who took to the streets were supporters of various extreme right-wing groups. A smaller group tried to have a meeting with president László Sólyom and an even smaller one tried to reach Fernec Gyurcsány's private home. Both were turned back by the police.

The unofficial slogan for the anti-government demonstrations is "elkúrtad", which literally means "you fucked up". This is a reference to Gyurcsány's speech in which he used the same Hungarian word to describe what his government had done in the past couple of years.

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Shit Hits the Fan

2006.09.17. 19:00 | riotsinhungary

On September 17 an audiotape was sent to most major Hungarian newspapers, news sites, TV and radio stations. The recording on the tape was a speech by socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, supposedly made on May 26. 2006 at a meeting of the Hungarian Socialist Party's (MSZP) MPs.

The speech consisted mostly of Gyurcsány detailing the quite well-known fact that the Hungarian economy was on the verge of collapse, and that something had to be done immediately. With lots of swearing never before heard from a Hungarian politician, Gyurcsány also went into how his government had done nothing in the past two years, instead choosing to lie to the Hungarian society.

Details of the speech were immediately highlighted by all Hungarian media. Some of these were:

"We don't have too many choices, because we fucked it up. Not just a bit: a lot. No European country has done something this idiotic ever."

"It's totally clear that we've been lying for the last two years. It's obvious that what we were saying was just not true."

"If we ask ourselves what have we done in the past four years, the only thing that we can be proud of, is that in this last period at least we were governing."

The socialists had won the April 2006 parliamentary elections without ever admitting how deep an economic crisis the country was in. Since April however the socialist-led government has started a program of mild economic reforms, most of which went directly against what they had promised before the elections.

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2006.09.16. 14:31 | riotsinhungary


On September 17, the biggest riots in Hungary’s post-soviet history started on the streets of Budapest. In the next couple of days, a coalition of football hooligans and extreme right-wing protesters laid seige to the building of the Hungarian state TV, clashed with police and caused mayhem throughout the city.

The riots were sparked by a tape leaked to the media, which featured socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány admitting to his fellow socialists that the governemnet had been lying to the public for the last years. chronicles everything happening in Hungary right now. The editors are journalists at Hungary’s leading news site, The translated articles, photos, videos appearing on this blog were all originally published by

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