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Riots mark Hungary 1956 uprising commemoration

Hungarian police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of anti-government protesters on Monday, marring commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising against Soviet rule.

Police also used water cannon and some protesters lobbed stones and other missiles at them. The ambulance service said 130 people had been injured although there were no life-threatening injuries. A policeman was stabbed in the hand. Protesters took to the streets more than a month ago following the admission by Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány in a leaked speech that he lied about the economy to win national elections in April. As police pushed the crowd of mostly far-right protesters back toward a peaceful rally by the right of center Fidesz opposition, demonstrators seized a Soviet-era T-34 tank -- on show for the commemorations -- and drove it at police. „The whole crowd started cheering. The police started firing teargas, then the tank stopped,” Reuters cameraman Fedja Grulovic said. Reuters reporters said police had fired hundreds of teargas rounds and used mounted police to clear protesters from the streets and paving stones had been thrown at the lines of police in riot gear.

Fidesz spokesman Tamás Deutsch-Für complained the police had „committed brutal and inexplicable violence against peaceful people” in pushing the demonstrators into its rally and the main opposition party said one of its MPs had been injured by police. Gyurcsány has defied calls for him to quit, and backed by his Socialists and the Free Democrat parliamentary allies won a vote of confidence to carry on with his tough economic policies. n parliament, the prime minister said Hungarians in 1956 had no choice but to rebel and the country, which held its first free elections in 1990 and joined the European Union in 2004, was now a modern, democratic state. „Despite the often justified disappointment and discontent, the majority of Hungarians believe that parliamentary democracy is the most suited to express people's will and to create law and give a program to a free Hungary,” he said. Gyurcsány was later whistled as he placed a white rose on a new sculpture to those who died in 1956. Some 2,600 Hungarians died battling Soviet troops, more than 200 were executed and 200,000 fled the country. (reuters.com)