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Thousands of Hungarians protest against Orban following corruption leak scandal

by Martin Fornusek March 27, 2024 12:20 AM 2 min read
Lawyer and former government insider, Peter Magyar, holds the Hungarian flag during the demonstration he organized near the Hungarian parliament on March 26, 2024, in Budapest, Hungary. (Janos Kummer/Getty Images)
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Thousands of people gathered near the Hungarian parliament in Budapest on March 26, calling for the resignation of the chief prosecutor and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Reuters reported.

The protests broke out after a former government insider published a leak that he says implicates other government officials in covering up corruption.

Orban's rule was rocked by large-scale protests already in February when it became known that then-President Katalin Novak pardoned a man imprisoned for covering up child sex abuse cases. Both Novak and Justice Minister Judit Varga resigned in the wake of the scandal.

Varga's ex-husband and former political insider, Peter Magyar, recently released a tape where the former justice minister apparently incriminates other officials in tampering with court records to cover up their roles in corrupt business dealings.

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"This is very clear evidence that the Hungarian justice system is not free and not independent," Katalin Cseh, a Hungarian opposition member of the European Parliament, told Politico.

"It is also one of the first cases when someone from Orban's inner circle has spoken out."

A spokesperson of Orban's government dismissed the accusations and accused Magyar of harassing his ex-spouse.

Hungary's current prime minister has been in power since 2010, with his tenure marked by democratic backsliding, fierce anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric, and amicable stances toward authoritarian regimes like Russia or China.

Orban has maintained warm ties with Moscow even amid the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, repeatedly obstructing aid for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

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