Police have apprehended a man who allegedly attacked an activist gathering signatures for the Nolimpia campaign. The attack took place at the Móricz Zsigmond Square subway underpass Thursday morning, reports index.hu.
The activist, a member of opposition party Politics Can Be Different (LMP), was reportedly struck in the head with a wine bottle. According to police, the attacker had gotten into an argument with someone when the activist tried to intervene. The attacker, a 56-year-old man identified as János A., then struck the activist in the head with a wine bottle.
The police statement indicates that the activist was injured while breaking up an unrelated scuffle, but according to a blog post by acquaintances of the activist, the assailant was harassing a person who was signing the petition.
“They were collecting signatures when an unknown man stepped up to the stand and got in a heated exchange with someone signing the petition. The unknown man then ran away. They would have resumed with the signature gathering but the unknown man returned and started pushing ( it isn’t clear who he was pushing – ed). That ended quickly because the unknown man ran away again. That’s about the time the [transportation authority] security guards arrived and demanded to know what caused all the yelling. That’s when the [unknown man] showed up again with a wine bottle and struck the activist in the head so hard that it opened up a bleeding cut on his head. The activist then ran into the transportation office.”
Police were summoned to assist the victim at the scene. Index reports the victim was taken to the hospital.
“We are unaware of [the attacker’s] exact motivation, but this is just the latest in several aggressive acts that have taken place against our hard-working activists,” said Gergő Papp, a press officer with the Momentum Movement (MOMO), the activist group-turned party that initiated the signature gathering. “This is where we end up when people use violent rhetoric and words like ‘treason’. We wish this LMP activist a speedy recovery.”
According to 24.hu, just hours after the attack at Móricz Zsigmond Square, a Nolimpia stand at Blaha Lujza Square was “smashed” by an attacker who then fled. The police were reportedly called there, too.
Thursday is the final full day of the Nolimpia signature gathering campaign, but the day’s attacks on signature gatherers come after a series of similar incidents at signature gathering stands in Budapest since the signature drive began a month ago. Most recently, an activist gathering signatures on Saturday was head-butted so hard that his nose started bleeding.
Budapest is bidding for the 2024 Olympics. The Momentum Movement needs 138,000 signatures to force a referendum on the bid.