As part of their commemorations today to celebrate the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, Ferenc Gyurcsanyâ€™s Socialist Party Government provided two Soviet-era T-34 tanks to mark the occasion when, on the 23rd of October 1956, students occupied Budapestâ€™s Parliament Square to demand greater freedom for Hungarian citizens.
However, a large group of mainly right-wing protestors also chose to use the occasion to continue their calls for Ferenc Gyurcsanyâ€™s resignation after a tape recording was leaked to the media in which he admitted to lying about the bad state of the Hungarian economy prior to the election last April.
Determined to spoil the commemoration the protestors turned up at Kossuth Square, which had been cleared for a ceremony where visiting heads of state would lay flowers in memory of those killed by Soviet forces in 1956.
The protestors, however, were met outside Parliament buildings by riot police who used rubber bullets and water cannon to force them back. In a unexpected counter move some of the protestors seized the two tanks and drove them at police.
According to Bloomberg, the anti-government protestors announced in advance that they were going to up the level of violence in order to bring down the government.
“We are prepared to get rid of this government by radical means, like they did in 1956. In a violent way. If they will not heed the word of peace,” Kemal Gyorgy Ekrem, who said he was elected spokesman by the demonstrators, said in an interview. Radical action would start tonight, he added.â€
Itâ€™s ironic, is it not, that protestors, trying to claim the spirit of â€˜56 should end up commandeering the tanks, which after all is a symbol of state violence against those seeking greater freedom within what was clearly a repressive regime.
But it turns out that Ekrem is a committed nationalist:
“We want to bring into existence a real government composed of nationalists,” Ekrem said. “One that doesn’t contain people who represent interests of politics and globalization.”
And according to a Budapest-based research organization, the 1956 Institute he received a two-year suspended sentence in 2001 for conspiring to overthrow the constitutional order.
So he wants to bring down a Socialist government and install a national socialist one instead.
I have to quote the last line of the Bloomberg report. Itâ€™s kind of funny:
â€œJanos Ader, another opposition leader, charged Gyurcsany with planning to fake an assassination attempt on himself to gain people’s sympathy.â€
In the interests of accuracy it turns out that it was only one tank and that it travelled for no more than a 100 meters. The protestors must have brought their own battery because the batteries had been removed to avoid just this type of tank-jack.
It should also be noted that there were also centre-right politicians and opposition parties protesting and dispite the strong presence of far-right and football hooligans it wasn’t just facists stirring up trouble.