Court temporarily suspends removal of poster kiosks

History

(Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

The Budapest Municipal Court yesterday issued a temporary ban on the removal by the city of Mahir Cityposter advertising kiosks in Budapest, state news agency MTI reported today. The decision is a victory for media mogul Lajos Simicska in his ongoing battle with the ruling Fidesz party.

City workers remove Mahir Cityposter Kft. advertising kiosks on January 2, with the help of cranes. (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

Budapest’s local council cancelled a 25-year contract with Mahir Cityposter, which has ties to Simicska, last October, after on-site checks of the kiosks revealed that the company had failed to comply with conditions on the placement of air pollution gauges and had equipped some terminals with WiFi instead of installing internet terminals.

The city began dismantling the kiosks in early January before the final judgment on the termination of the contract was passed. At the time, Budapest’s local government enlisted the help of police when security teams hired by Mahir tried to prevent the removal of the kiosks, MTI reported .

The court rejected an appeal of the cancellation of the contract Mahir Cityposter made in November, but accepted a new appeal presented, with an “expanded justification”, yesterday. Mahir Cityposterʼs contract with the capital involved almost 700 kiosks.

A long-time ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Simicska, had a public falling out with the prime minister and the ruling Fidesz party earlier last year. Since then, Simicska has been losing valuable contracts with officialdom: Közgép, the construction company that Simicska owned, and that used to win more money in Hungarian government procurement tenders than any other firm, has stopped getting contracts. And, more recently, Metropol, a free newspaper in which Simicska has ownership, lost a license for distribution in the capitalʼs Metro stations.

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