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Hungarians rally for and against premier Orban

Hungarian opponents of Prime Minister Viktor Orban have rallied in Budapest at an event that may have given birth to a new opposition movement. Meanwhile, a huge crowd gathered in support of the government.

Hungarians took to the streets both for and against Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday.

At the opposition rally in the center of the capital, Budapest, former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnaj announced the creation of "Movement 14," a consolidation of the opposition devoted to taking power from Orban.

The leader is accused of threatening democracy by harming the independence of national institutions regarded as a check on the government's power. Estimates placed the number of people present at between 30,000 and 50,000.

"Look how many you are!" Bajnai told the cheering crowd. "I urge you to take strength from that. I take strength from it."

Bajnai told supporters they and other Hungarians had been betrayed by Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party, who had made "the rich richer and the poor poorer."

Bajnai's supporters, draped with national flags, gathered outside parliament to hear the premier repeat criticism of EU interference. State news agency MTI put the number of Orban supporters who gathered at 150,000. Some were said to have been bussed into the capital from parts of neighboring countries where ethnic Hungarians live.

"We accept the rules of European cooperation that apply to all," said Orban "But we do not accept that, using however refined methods, outsiders should govern us."

Orban has been criticized by the EU for threatening to limit the power of constitutional court judges and is accused of damaging the independence of the country's central bank. He has also been accused of threatening freedom of the press with a new media law.

Both rallies were held to commemorate the anniversary of an uprising in Hungary against the Soviet bloc in 1956.

rc/sej (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)