Thousands of Hungarians marched through central Budapest on May Day marking the anniversary of the country becoming a member of the European Union.
The rally which was called “We belong to Europe” was organised by a new political movement in protest against what it claims is the creeping rise in Russian influence under Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The president of the Momentum Movement, András Fekete-Győr explained:
“We see that they are building something based on Putin’s Russian model. The propaganda media (public television MTVA) is supporting them. That is they are promoting the government’s views. We will energise the people and tell them not to be afraid because together we are strong in community.”
“Health care, education, (public) transportation are failing. We struggle to make things work every day,” continued Fekete-Gyor, adding that the group would unveil its election manifesto in October.
The rally follows a series of major demonstrations in Budapest in recent weeks, triggered by a new law that would drive out of Hungary a top university founded by American financier George Soros.
“They are building an illiberal state. We can see it in different ways. For example they are closing a university, they are bringing in so called educational reforms and they are turning away from EU,” claimed one woman protester.
Later demonstrators gathered outside the ruling Fidesz party headquarters calling for Orban to quit.
The government has denied it wants to take Hungary out of the EU but is seeking reforms to ensure any further loss of national sovereignty.
Euronews reporter Attila Magyar said:
“On 13th anniversary of Hungary’s accession to the European Union opposition demonstrators warned the government to remain close to Europe.”