Thousands of Hungarians march in anti-graft protest

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Thousands of people have rallied against corruption in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, in the latest challenge to the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

People marched from the parliament to the presidential palace in the capital on Thursday, demanding a “zero tolerance” policy to deal with graft.

The protesters carried placards slamming some senior members of Orban’s government for their alleged roles in recent corruption cases.

They also urged the resignation of Ildiko Vida, Hungary’s Tax Office chief. She has been banned from entry to the US over charges of corruption.

Vida claims that she is innocent, while Orban says that the US must provide evidence before a probe into corruption at the Tax Office starts.

“If someone accuses, then [they should] provide the proof; from an ally and friend like the US, this is expected, but this hasn’t happened yet,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said at a press conference today.

The Thursday demonstration, which ended peacefully, was the latest in a series of civil anti-government protests arranged via social media since October, when tens of thousands protested against a proposed tax on internet usage.

The corruption charges come as relations between Hungary and the US have recently been strained over alleged civil rights violations by Budapest.

In September, US President Barack Obama slammed Hungary for targeting civil society.

Hungary’s Foreign Ministry called in the US envoy, Chargé d’Affaires André Goodfriend, on Wednesday after US Senator John McCain called Prime Minister Viktor Orban a “neo-fascist dictator.”

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