Tributes to communism victims

We owe the chance to live in freedom, independence and democracy to many lesser-known heroes rather than to the politicians who made preparations for the regime change of 1989, President János Áder has said at an event in Békéssámson marking Victims of Communism Day. Áder made a reference to the 20 young locals who had formed a secret resistance organisation in

1951 to fight communism and were later imprisoned. He also remembered the many mothers and fathers who “preserved and passed on through the generations everything that’s called patriotism, love for the country, self-esteem and Hungarian sentiment”. House Speaker László Kövér inaugurated a memorial plaque in Parliament honouring the victims of communist rule under the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919. The plaque pays tribute to

the roughly 500 people who were held captive and tortured in the Parliament building by the regime. The press at the time knew that not all who were held captive survived, however the only body ever found and identified was that of András Incseli Szőts. The memorial plaque is near where his body was found on June 26, 1919. The Socialist Party paid tribute to all victims of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, saying it was a national responsibility to call attention to the hazards jeopardising democracy and to step up against dictatorial traits. Exhibition recalls war labourers

A travelling exhibition installed in a train wagon at Budapest’s Nyugati railway station pays tribute to Hungarians deported to Soviet forced-labour camps in 1944-45. The exhibition forms part of an anniversary programme series running until early 2017. It presents the historical background of the era in pictures and it shows films including documentaries on the Gulag prisons. After March 15 it will travel to railway stations in

Cegléd, Kál-Kápolna, Miskolc, Szerencs, Debrecen, Gyula, Kiskunhalas,

Baja, Szekszárd, Pécs, Budaörs and Székesfehérvár, locations where the

deportations began, said Elonóra Matkovits-Kretz, the head of the

PecsBaranya chapter of the National Circle of Germans in Hungary. An

estimated 200,000-230,000 civilians were taken into forced-labour camps

for “malenkiy robot” – “a little work” – from Hungary. They included

150,000-170,000 male war prisoners and 50,000 men and women internees

with an ethnic German background. Up to 40 percent of the prisoners died

in the camps and many of them are in unmarked graves.

Baby ‘damaged’ by drug mum

An infant brought to life via C-section after the mother was hospitalised for drug abuse may have suffered permanent damage, Norbert Lippai, the director of Szolnok County hospital, told state news agency MTI on Tuesday. At the end of January two pregnant women suspected of having used the same psychoactive drug were taken to the hospital unconscious, and doctors had to perform emergency surgeries to deliver the babies. The hospital said the other infant has a good chance of a full recovery. The cases were immediately reported to authorities and both babies are likely to be placed with foster parents, on the grounds that the mothers seem unable to handle the responsibility. Police said that at the end of January several people were brought to the hospital after most likely consuming the same drug. A 39-year-old local man had been arrested on suspicion of involvement.

Liszt Academy given Heritage Label

The Budapest Franz Liszt Academy of Music is to be recognised as a European Heritage Label site, the EU commissioner in charge of culture, Tibor Navracsics, has said in Budapest. The European Commission awards the heritage label to sites that not only serve local communities but are important from the point of view of European identity and common European history, Navracsics said. The Liszt Academy, a masterpiece of Hungarian Art Nouveau, symbolises well the

country’s contribution to European culture, he said. The Commission decided in February to add the academy and eight other sites to the label list. They will be recognised in a ceremony in Brussels on April 13. Referendum thugs ‘condemned’

The “presence and behaviour” of a group of thugs inside the National Election Office at the time Socialist deputies and private individuals were submitting referendum initiatives was against the law, the National Election Committee said on Monday. The committee was responding to a complaint filed by Socialist politician István Nyakó, who insisted that the group of “bald-shaved thugs” had held him up, and a private

individual who had arrived later succeeded in stamping their document just a few seconds before his. Both referendums were proposed in connection with Hungary’s Sunday shopping ban. The committee said, however, that it could not ascertain if the thugs had actually held up the Socialists or if “the private individual and her companion took advantage of the situation”. With referendum initiatives on the same subject, the election office deals with the submission first received, thus the committee approved the referendum initiative submitted ahead of the Socialist one. According to the proposal approved, voters would be asked if they agree that retail shops should continue to stay closed on Sundays. Left-wing candidate wins interim local election

A left-wing candidate has won the local election in the town of Salgotarjan, defeating the candidates of the ruling Fidesz party, the opposition radical nationalist Jobbik and the non-parliamentary Workers’ Party. The election office said Zsolt Fekete, the candidate of the opposition Socialists, the Democratic Coalition, the Tarjan City Residents’ Alliance and the European Left-wing, received 7394 votes out of 14,209.

The interim election followed the death of Socialist mayor Ottó Dóra

in November. Socialist leader József Tóbiás said the result gave hope to

Hungarians who think Prime Minister Viktor Orbán should quit to allow a

“freer, safer and more liveable Hungary”. He thanked Salgotarjan for

“having the courage to say no to incitement to hatred and blackmail”.

Animal cruelty penalties ‘too lenient’

Thousands of people demonstrated outside Parliament against animal cruelty in Budapest on Saturday. The protest was called by more than 120 animal welfare organisations. After speeches, a proposal to introduce heavier penalties was handed to a representative of Parliament’s agricultural committee. Kinga Schneider of Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter Foundation said the civil groups also wanted to see animal cruelty classified as a crime rather than an offence.
Woman-beating mayor fined
The court of Kecskemét has fined József Balogh, the mayor of Fülöpháza, HUF 420,000 for aggravated assault of his life partner. The non-binding ruling was appealed by the prosecution, which wanted jail time and for Balogh to attend anger-management classes. About three years ago Balogh severely assaulted his partner after attending her son’s wedding. Initially he asserted that she fell when she tripped over the family dog. Balogh – who retained his mayorship throughout the proceedings – subsequently confessed to the assault but blamed it on being under the influence of alcohol and medication.

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