By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Budapest, Hungary
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Deeply divided Hungary has marked the 56th anniversary of its crushed 1956 Revolution against Soviet domination and Communist rule with massive rallies for, and against, the center-right government.
Hungarian opposition groups used the opportunity to announce an electoral alliance aimed at defeating the governing Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who held a separate rally.
The demonstrations overshadowed what was otherwise a sober reminder to a conflict that killed at least 2,500 Hungarians while 200,000 fled when Soviet forces eventually moved in to end what was the first major challenge to the Soviet block created after World War Two.
Over 700 Soviet soldiers also died, according to historic records.
Following the failed revolt, Cardinal József Mindszenty, who openly opposed Communist tyranny, found shelter in the U.S. mission in Budapest until 1971 when he could leave under an agreement worked out between the Vatican and the Hungarian government.
The unflinching fighter for religious freedom died in exile in 1975.
Yet there was little sign of unity Tuesday, October 23, in Budapest, as government supporters and opponents used the revolution anniversary to demand changes in this post-Communist era.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, speaking to an estimated 150,000 supporters outside parliament, again criticized the European Union which he has compared to Moscow’s rule during the Cold War.
Orbán made clear that while Hungary accepts rules applying to all EU members, “we cannot accept anyone telling us what we can and cannot do in our own country.”
However his government has come under international criticism over its perceived nationalistic and autocratic policies that Brussels says threatens press freedom, previously independent institutions such as churches and banks, and unfairly targets mainly foreign companies with controversial taxes.
Speaking near a bridge for at least tens of thousands of people, Orbán, predecessor Gordon Bajnai announced a new alliance between opposition groups.
The 2014 elections, he said, “will be crucial not only for a change of government but for a real regime change” that he suggested did not happened so far. He said the new alliance seek to make Hungary “a normal, democratic and European society” and integrate the groups opposing Orbán’s government.
He spoke at a rally of ‘the One Million for the Freedom of Press’ (Milla) movement which was launched on the social networking website Facebook and officially turned into a broader alliance on Tuesday.
Far-right protesters were prevented from reaching the same area, with riot police standing nearby.
The tensions come at a time when Hungary is seeking a multibillion dollar financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to overcome its seemingly deepest economic crisis since the reburial of revolution leader Imre Nagy in 1989 and Cardinal József Mindszenty, two years later.
(BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals).
Farmotel Stefania is located in hunting area in one of Hungary’s most prestigious wine regions. Near hills, forests and lakes. It has all the facilities of a fine hotel and offers full privacy, huge outdoor space, sauna, grill house and much more.