Thousands protest suspension of main opposition newspaper Népszabadság

October 8, 2016


Some 4,000 people demonstrated in Kossuth Square outside Parliament Saturday evening over the suspension that morning of the print and on-line editions of left-wing daily Népszabadság.

Among the demonstrators were current and former employees of the 60-year-old left-wing publication.  All said the news that their services were no longer required had taken them completely by surprise.

The demonstration was peaceful. Although the organizers did not plan any speeches, some availed themselves of megaphones to speak their minds and even to call for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s resignation.

Speaking simultaneously though two megaphones, Népszabadság employee Miklós Hargitai told the crowd the following:

“What we know about politics is what the media tells us.  It looks as though from this time forward (pro-government) Magyar Idők will tell us what we need to know about politics. This morning when our colleagues on duty arrived, they were not allowed into the building. Among other things Fidesz issued a declaration that this was long coming, and that the market cannot support a loss-making newspaper.  My opinion is that if the market can maintain a newspaper  with a circulation of 3000 then probably it could maintain one with a circulation of 40,000. But in this country it is not the market that decides such things but somebody else. Press freedom has retreated to a very small area.”

During the demonstration one protester collapsed and had to be resuscitated.  At one point, smoke could be seen rising from the left side of the square where somebody was burning copies of pro-government Magyar Idők (Hungarian Times) .

The Hungarian Socialist Party held a separate demonstration in front of Mediaworks Hungary Zrt.’s Futó street offices.  Socialist chairman Gyula Molnár told a large crowd,

“Today Népszabadsàg, tomorrow the other newspapers, then the political parties, and then the country will be finished.”

Hungarian Socialist Party politician Ágnes Kunhalmi called the paper’s suspension an “unprecedented humiliation.”