Captain 'didn't help'

A Budapest court has ordered placing under criminal supervision the captain of a third ship in connection with a cruise ship collision in Budapest last May 29, the Budapest chief prosecutor's office said. In the accident, the Viking Sigyn cruise ship collided with the Hableany sightseeing boat carrying 33 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew. Seven tourists survived and the rest died. The body of one of the 28 victims remains missing. Legal proceedings have been launched against the Viking Sigyn's Ukrainian captain, who is under house arrest. The chief prosecutor said that placing the captain of another cruise ship, the Viking Idun, which had been following the Viking Sigyn, was initiated by a Budapest district prosecutor. The captain, also a Ukrainian, was questioned by Budapest police as a suspect charged with failure to provide help. The man reported voluntarily to the hearing after which he was taken into custody. The Budapest court ordered in a binding ruling placing the Viking Idun's captain under criminal supervision, requiring him to report to police monthly.


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Participating cities (Budapest and Győr) prepare for the 2020 edition of Giro d‘Italia, the first three stages of which will be held in Hungary. During the three-week cycling competition the leader traditionally wears the pink jersey


'Restore' death penalty

László Toroczkai, leader of the radical nationalist non-parliamentary Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) party, has called for a social debate on possibly reinstating the death penalty, after the recent murder of a 61-year-old Hungarian woman in Saly village "by a perpetrator likely of Gypsy ethnicity". Toroczkai said it appears that the criminal justice system is not sufficient deterrent to murder. Politicians were trying to "sweep this problem under the rug" and "keeping silent on the crimes plaguing the rural public". He said Mi Hazánk is the only Hungarian party to suggest reinstating capital punishment. His party wanted an issue such as this to be decided by the Hungarian people and not from abroad. As a member of the European Union, Hungary does not have the authority to reintroduce capital punishment. Toroczkai said: "We don't always have to accept the status quo, especially when it goes against the interests of the people. I don't care about rights organisations or the EU. We must change what's not right."


Protest against mayor

Demonstrators gathered outside Budapest's 7th district mayoral office to demand the resignation of mayor Péter Niedermüller over his description of "white, Christian, heterosexuals" as "a scary formation". The politician of the leftist opposition Democratic Coalition had said on commercial television: "If we look at what's left after you peel away the objects of the haters such as non-Hungarians, the others, migrants, the Roma ... a scary formation is left in the middle: white, Christian, heterosexual men -- there also women among them. That's their vision of a family." At the demonstration organised by ruling Fidesz's youth arm Fidelitas, Fidesz communications chief István Hollik said the remarks showed that "losing Christian freedom is just a change of government away".


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Small bridge collapses in Piliscsaba


Hotter than ever

Temperatures in Hungary reached a record high for February 2, hitting 18.2 degrees in the village of Drávaszabolcs. The old record of 18.1 degrees was in Fonyed village in 1965, according to the weather service.


Concern at weak forint

The government and central bank should protect the weakening forint, Socialist Party deputy leader László Szakács believes. He warned that the currency is "at a nadir" against the euro, there is a "hundred-billion-forint hole" in the budget and accelerating inflation. Szakács said international companies are using the weak forint "to make profits to the detriment of Hungarian employees". Large companies were paying wages in forints but their accounts were based in euros. "If a multinational pays 300,000 forints to an employee, this had cost 1000 euros earlier but now costs only 880-900 euros." Szakács said residency bonds issued to foreigners under a government scheme were about to mature and investors would need to be paid back in euros. "The Hungarian taxpayer will again suffer." He will ask Finance Minister Mihály Varga if enough budget reserves are available to cope with the weakening of the forint. Further, central bank governor György Matolcsy will be asked for information about how much the national bank has profited from not preventing the weakening of the Hungarian currency.


# Baroque ball in Győr


Hosszú wins again

Olympic and world champion swimmer Katinka Hosszú has received the International Sports Press Association's (AIPS) European Sportswoman of the Year Award at a gala event in Budapest. The award was presented to her by AIPS Europe president Charles Camenzuli in recognition of her two gold medals at the FINA world aquatics championships in Gwangju, South Korea, last year. Hosszú won the award for the third year in a row.


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Southern cassowary arrives to Debrecen Zoo


Support on kindergartens

The Association of Budapest Councils (BOSZ) has expressed its support for local council-run kindergartens at the new body's inaugural session. In a declaration signed by Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony and every district mayor present, the BOSZ said labour shortages at the capital's kindergartens should be addressed by increasing funding rather than centralisation. The association argued that local councils are capable of ensuring the operation of kindergartens and nurseries, and there is no financial reason to bring them under government control. BOSZ was established to promote effective cooperation among the district councils and to help represent their interests before the government.


Drugs, forgeries 'seized'

Police have seized several kilograms of drugs, forged money and documents from a Chinese and a Vietnamese national in the 10th district of Budapest, the police.hu website says. The two men are suspected of managing deliveries of drugs into and from Hungary, as well as selling them in the country. The 32-year-old Vietnamese was taken into custody with metamphetamine, 900 grams of MDMA pills and 7.5kg of an organic substance suspected to be narcotics seized from his person and from the two flats he used, the website said. His accomplice was taken into custody with drugs, forged euro notes and forged documents found in his apartment, the police allege. Since this suspect had met people who visited China recently, doctors examined him for coronavirus but no further measures were necessary.


Hévíz sparkles

Spa town Hévíz, home to Europe's largest thermal lake, has been voted twelfth best place to visit in this year's European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) ranking. Hévíz headed places such as Prague and Madrid, based on more than 600,000 votes submitted in January- February. In addition to Hungarians, Hévíz enjoyed the support of many German, British, Norwegian, Austrian, Russian and Asian travellers, showing the town has earned a place among global tourism destinations, the Héviz council said. Making the EDEN list generally boosts tourism activity at destinations by 15 percent, it added. EDEN, an initiative of the European Commission launched in 2006, aims to raise the profile of "emerging, non-traditional European destinations", while drawing attention to their "values, diversity and common features".


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Árpád híd subway station renamed Göncz Árpád városközpont to honour former president of the republic Árpád Göncz


LMP wants rail bypass

The opposition LMP has called on the government to construct a railway line bypassing Budapest to ease freight traffic. LMP board member István Bajkó-Sokoray said the planned "HUF 1000 billion reconstruction" of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line would cross through south Budapest, raising the area's freight traffic by 40 percent and increasing noise and vibration. He said the government should suspend the investment until it finds a solution "to divert Hungary's busiest future railway line from a residential area in downtown Budapest".


Taxi driver 'illegal'

Police have arrested an alleged illegal taxi driver in Budapest's 7th district for allegedly using an electronic device to manipulate his meter to overcharge. The 50-year-old was stopped for a random check in Wesselényi utca, and it transpired that his taxi licence had been withdrawn. Police found an electronic device on the dashboard above the meter that could be used to increase the fare shown. The man was arrested for suspected criminal activity and the car was seized. He faces a charge of fraud committed with the help of electronic equipment.


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The sun came out on 2 February and Balu, a bear in Budapest Zoo, saw his own shadow, which according to folklore means winter will be long


Flights to Zadar

Low-cost airline Ryanair will launch a direct flight between Budapest and Zadar (Zara) on Croatia's Dalmatian coast from July. The flight will operate on Thursdays and Sundays from July to September. Some 644,000 Hungarians spent 3,276,000 guest nights in Croatia in 2019, according to the Croatian National Tourist Board.


More concrete

A HUF 52 billion, 30-kilometre section of the M4 dual carriageway south-east of Budapest between Ullo and Albertirsa has been inaugurated. It was built by Duna Aszfalt and EuroAszfalt. The M4 now runs for almost 45 kilometres, from the M0 ring road around the capital to Cegled, near Szolnok.


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