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Protest over silencing of leading opposition newspaper to take place at 6 pm this evening

“Today they simply silenced one of the last opposition newspapers because it dared to write that Antal Rogán had taken a helicopter.” – Facebook post announcing protest

A demonstration is planned for 6 pm this evening in Parliament’s Kossuth Square to protest the decision of Mediaworks Hungary Zrt. to suspend the publication of print daily Népszabadság this morning morning.  Simultaneously, it replaced its online edition, nol.hu, with a press statement in Hungarian and English explaining that the loss-making newspaper had become an unbearable burden and that it’s editorial staff was no longer required to do any work while he owners focussed on developing a viable format fo the 60-year old left-wing newspaper.

According to hvg.hu, the paper’s editorial staff discovered Saturday morning that they had been locked out of their email accounts and that editor-in-chief András Murányi could not be reached. Shortly the paper’s employees received a letter via courier informing them that their employer no longer required them to perform their jobs and for this reason that they would no longer have access to the paper’s editorial offices or their email accounts.

“In 2014 we thought we had reached rock bottom with the destruction of Origo.  They had written that János Lázár took unbelievably expensive trips.  The end of the story is known: Telekom gave the government the newspaper, and since that time it has disseminated propaganda.  We thought things could not get worse.  But today they simply silenced one of the last opposition newspapers because it dared to write that Antal Rogán had taken a helicopter” reads a post advertising a protest scheduled to take place in front of Parliament today at 6 pm.

“As the protest is being organized by civil society, we don’t want party symbols.  We are not planning for there to be any speakers or even a stage.  We are just gathering so they see that we are upset about it.”

444,hu reports that there have long been rumors that companies close to the government, including a company close to rags-to-riches Fidesz oligarch Lőrinc Mészàros, had approved Mediaworks owner Vienna Capital Partners about acquiring a number of important newspapers, and that Fidesz was specifically interested in the Nemzeti Sport (National Sport) and the county newspapers.  Austrian billionaire Hinrich Pecina reportedly wished to sell the entire portfolio as opposed to individual publications.  Fidesz, on the on the hand, did not want to acquire a portfolio that included a leading opposition newspaper.

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