Shall we sweep it under the carpet - alias the stagnation of the Hungarian drug legislation
On the 13 May 2007 the Kendermag (Hemp seed) Association held its now traditional demonstration on  Margaret Island. Among others aims, Kendermag is focusing on generating a discussion in society about the drug issue. According to their observations the strategy of the Hungarian government about this topic has not changed since the creation of the first drug law and it most definitely is not closing to the European Union's directives.
In the Hungarian Criminal law it was the IV. Statute of 1978 that first regulated drug abuse, but did not differentiate between distributor and consumer, it penalised both. After that the XVII Statute of 1993 was born this routine changed. The new regulation did not sanction the consumer any more and introduced the institution of diversion. It means that the commiters of crimes of smaller importance could have avoided punishment by undergoing a half year of prevention or medical treatment. However, the legislation entering into force on the 1 March 1999 heavily aggravated the previous one. According to it in the case of drug abuse the highest penalty can be life imprisonment plus the consumption of drugs fell under criminal law once more. Back then the Fidesz government (present opposition) wanted to achieve a completely drug-free country even though the opinion of experts on the subject, seeing the international picture, was that it cannot be done.
The Union 's directives suggest a completely different method in handling the drug problems, moreover it strongly discourages the member state governments to penalise drug consumption by imprisonment. In line with the new EU drug strategy the member states have accepted to consider first to the expertise not the climate of opinions. This approach rather suits liberalisation than restriction since according to the researches heavy punishment has never brought the expected results.
Despite of the international examples and the EU model Hungarian MPs are tend to make their decisions more according to the climate of opinions, at least in this one case. To find an example to follow we don't have to go far, in the traditionally conservative Poland the Ministry of Public Health is preparing a draft legislation to exclude drug consumption from criminal law. Recently the MSZP government has started to prepare changes to the statute in force in accordance with the order of the Constitutional Court. This initiation has made last weekend's demonstration even more current.
The Kendermag Association, found in 2002, is a non-profit civil organisation aiming to make a difference in drug problem handling in legislation. They want to capacitate the political decision-makers to supervise and reconsider the drug laws. Apart from this they give information on drugs using as many forums as they can. Their aim is to generate a debate in society about the drug-policy because according to their experiences people tend to lack information, are prejudiced and refuse every effort towards easing the regulations. Among the members of Kendermag a lot of nationaly and internationaly known artists can be found.
The Association has kept several events in the framework of the Million Marijuana March (MMM) which organising yearly demonstrations to promote hemp-culture. In the first weeks of May festivals, demonstrations, concerts and many other events are kept all around the globe in connection with cannabis (for more information visit ).
Seeing all this we can say the Hungarian society and politicians are not yet ready to change. The opinions are just as divided and conflicted as ten years ago. This is mainly due to that the Hungarian media will not provide a forum for debates and questions in relation with the drug issue but rather are demonising the subject. There should be ground yielded to a drug policy that is based on considering public health aspects, scientifically proven facts and the respect of human right instead of the now favoured fear, prejudice and false morality.

Police foil political bomb plot

Police foiled a plot to plant bombs at a Socialist Party event on Tuesday evening.

photos by Bence Járdány - hirszerzo.huaaaaaaaaaaaaafor more pictures click

Acting on a tip-off, they raided a flat in Csepel, a working-class district in south Budapest, where they found materials that police said could have been used to create explosives. Police arrested two men and one woman who police say may have been planning to plant bombs at a Socialist Party gathering to commemorate the end of World War II, which was held by the Danube on Wednesday evening.

Tamas Polgar, the 30-year-old who was a major mover behind the street riots that took over the streets of Budapest last autumn, was one of those arrested. A member of the public sharing a lift with one of the suspects earlier in the day is understood to have overheard him say
into a phone: "We're going to bomb this evening." The member of the public later called the police with the tip-off.

The commemorative event passed off without any serious incidents on Wednesday evening. Ferenc Gyurcsany, the prime minister, delivered a speech to the now traditional accompaniment of jeering and egg-throwing by far-right elements in the crowd. Gyurcsany delivered a defiant speech, saying: "We are Hungary, too. We're not afraid!" "You fucked up, you fucked up!", came the dissenters' reply. Police made several arrests over the course of the evening.

Police also found human bones during their search of the Csepel flat. This immediately prompted speculation that they were the bones of Janos Kadar, the former Communist leader whose grave was desecrated last week. It has since emerged that the the bones, which were found in a suitcase, were those of several different people, all of whom had died at least 50 years ago.

Pálinka Festival

Budapest Palinka Festival begins on Thurdsay. At the four-day event,23 palinka distilleries will offer 300 varieties of palinka in theVaroshaza Park. The festival will begin with an educationaleventduring which exhibitors will teach visitors about palinka andotherstrong brandy-like spirits.Palinka, one of Hungary's morequestionable gifts to the world, is abrandy traditionally brewedthroughout Hungary and Transylvania.Traditionally made from plums,apples, pears or apricots, and isdouble distilled, allowing it toreach alcohol concentration levels of 60 to 80 per cent.

More culture for Berlin

The Berlin Hungarian Cultural Centre is getting a new home. The new, 2000 square metre building is located in Berlin's Museum Island. The new building is on the site of pre-World War II Hungarian Cultural Centre, which was levelled by bombing during the war. The building is the Culture Ministry's single largest foreign project. The €5m project is being built with the aid of private sector finance.

Every state needs a Hungarian head

Political drama in France doesn't make the grade in the Hungarian media consciousness.


The most interesting thing to be said about Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, is that he is of Hungarian descent, if you believe the Hungarian media. Like every frustrated micronation, Hungary likes to cheer on those of its sons and daughters who escape abroad. The trouble with this cheerful view is that Sarkozy's Hungarian father left the family when the future president was still a child. The new leader has no contact with his ethnic routes.

Congratulations, Mr President.

Visual MEDIAWAVE report

The Mediawave festival came to an end on last Saturday. Audiences were entertained by several hundred different performances in an extraordinarily wide range of genres. There was jazz, there was contemporary dance, there was even belly dancing. Film prizes were also awarded, on which see below. Our own secret tips did well. Click here to see an extract from a winner in the animation category: Tomek Ducki's film, created with the help of the Budapest Moholy-Nagy Art School.

double click on the picture for the playing or stopping the video

A highlight of the festival was a concert by Germany's youngest music professor, Michael Schiefel. His performance was an interesting mix of songs he sung himself and mixed in repeating samples and synthesised texts. Musical acrobatics performed with clown-like ease.

double click on the picture for the playing or stopping the video

As last week, we continue our photo and video report.

video by Barimari


For more pictures click


• Special Mention
• Prize of the Bárka Theatre
• Audience Award offered by: Hrabal Cinema
• Best Youth Prize and Animatio offered by the Ministry of Education and Culture
• Best Experimental Film offered by the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation 4K Advisory Board
• KODAK prize for the best Hungarian cinematographer
for Mátyás ERDÉLY in Bálint KENYERES’s film: BEFORE DAWN
• The KPMG Responsible Society Award
Orzumurod SHARIPOV (Tadjikistan): 11.000 KM FROM NEW YORK
• Special Jury Prize offered by the Ministry of Education and Culture
• Best Short Fiction Prize / Prize of the City of Gy

• Main Prize of The Festival offered by the Hungarian Motion Picture Foundation

Bank robber shot dead in Budapest

A bank was robbed in Budapest on Friday. The bank robber demanded Ft5m from staff at an OTP branch near Moszkva ter, taking hostages. He fired several warning shots. When police arrived, he fired shots at several people still left inside. Police shot him dead. The popular daily Blikk reports the perpetrator was a security guard, while other sources claim he had worked as a mercenary in Bosnia. When searching his house, police found several firearms and posters of Bin Laden and Hitler.

Grave desecration


The grave of János Kádár and his wife were desecrated early on Wednesday morning.

János Kádár, Hungary's last Communist leader, lent his name to an entire era. He died on 6 July 1989, shortly after the end of his reign, which began in 1956. Even today he is a divisive figure: remembered with nostalgia by some, others consider him a murderer because of his bloody suppression of the 1956 revolution. Graffiti daubed on the neighbouring Pantheon of the Workers' Movement suggests an extreme right grouping desecrated the grave and removed the remains of the former party leader and his wife.


Senior politicians of all parties condemned the action. Police are treating the case as an act of vandalism. For desecration to be the charge, a direct descendent of the grave's occupier would have to report the crime. Kadar had no children.


May 1 passes off without incidents

1 May celebrations pass off in an atmosphere of surprising calm Party and trade union 1 May celebrations passed off peacefully around the country.

In the City Park, the prime minister was able to deliver his customary speech in an atmosphere of calm for the first times in years. Only the Free Democrats were forced to abandon their commemoration because organisers preparing for the ceremony came into conflict with the organisers of the far-right Jobbik grouping's commemoration which was due to take place nearby. No reason was given for the confrontation.

A serious accident was the only event to cast a shadow over the day. In Budapest, strong winds freed a bouncy castle from its tethers. Several people were lightly injured, but an 8-year-old child was seriously injured and is in a life-threatening condition.


May 1


May 1st remains seeped in diehard tradition for the majority of Hungarians.
It has continued not only as a result of ancient fertility-rites which were once performed during the spring and have now evolved into the erection of maypoles outside the homes of single females by young frisky men of the countryside but from something far more recent.

May 1st meant huge celebrations during the Socialist era. It meant the revering of work as a concept, mass marches, the consumption of countless sausages and nationwide rejoicing.

Since 2004 the day has also gained in significance as it commemorates the country's joining the European Union. The festival this year will be honoured in Budapest with the erection of a maypole on Heroes' Square (Hôsôk tere) and an orgasmic group cheer celebrating 50 years of the EU.

Maypoles will adorn city streets, town squares and village greens throughout the country and the Tram6 staff have prepared their very own, very personal tribute to May 1st. Should you neither have the time, nor the wish to attend the recommended
Mediawave festival in Gyôr and see their maypole, we ask you to open your hearts and raise your voices, comrade, and join in a group rendition of Socialist propaganda in true Tram6 style....

Chrissie Rotter
Gergely Rónai

Hungarian scandal in Cannes

According to, Hungary has not been officially invited to the International Cannes Film Festival this year, after the Hungarian Cultural Minister, Istvan Hiller, and the Hungarian ambassador in Paris repeatedly insisted that Andrew Vajna’s film Szabadsag, Szerelem (Freedom, Love) should be amongst the headlining films Other demands made included that the Korda studio, which also belongs to Vajda, should be formally invited, as well as a ‘prominent American star. The festival organisers wanted to open up the film stage for fresh Hungarian talent and did not take kindly especially to the pushing of Vajna’s film, which had already previewed at the Berlin Film Festival last year. After six e-mails from the minister, the board decided to instead invite Poland to take Hungary’s place in the Tous les Cinémas du Monde days, where six countries are invited to showcase selected films from their country on a given day and Hungary will only be invited back when it understands the true politics behind the festival.

Chrissie Rotter

Chess duel - Miskolc, Hungary

The top Hungarian chess master, Péter Lékó and the Russian master Vlagyimir Kramnyik have been once again facing each other this week in the Rapid Open 2007. After Wednesday’s warm up match and Thursday’s draw, the two are set to begin the next round of matches tomorrow, with the Russian in the lead.

Rolling around town


An overwhelming number of cyclists turned up today for Critical Mass on Earth Day. According to organisers, around 50,000 people participated in cycling around the city. The participants got on their wheels to promote cycling, demonstrate the importance of reducing air pollution and also to draw attention to the lac of cycle paths in Budapest.  

photos by Gergely Rónai, video by Mari Bari -

Flags flying high

(photos by Bence Járdány, Polyák Attila - on the photo to see the gallery

The extreme right held a peaceful demonstration on Heroes square on April 21. The demonstration was organised by the two main characters behind the recent riots, László Toroczkai and György Budaházy. Since Budaházy is under house arrest, his speech was recorded and played on the spot. The event was somewhat of a visual spectacle, as some of the participants wore gas masks with the filter taken out, probably due to the nice weather, while some wore traditional Hungarian "betyár" outfits, which can most often be seen on the Hungarian Hortobágy plains during the famous horse shows. There was also music playing while the demonstrators paraded around the square.

New ministers

Ágnes Horváth former under-secretary has been appointed to the post of the Public Health Minister while Gábor Fodor will become the new Environmental Minister according to the election held by Free Democrats.

Gábor Fodor, János Kóka (Free Democrats' president), Ágnes Horváth (photo by Bence Járdány -

Second fiddle comes in first Fodor claims his prize as Horváth wins health portfolio

Gábor Fodor, who came a close second in the race to run his Free Democrat party, has been nominated to serve as minister for environmental protection, Fodor, who represents the party's social liberal wing, did far better than expected in the party's recent vote to choose a new chairman, losing to János Kóka, the economics minister and a more economically orthodox social conservative, despite starting from a much lower level of support. Fodor's nomination, which must be confirmed by Parliament, comes as no surprise. Following the leadership election, Kóka offered him carte blanche to choose the party or governmental position that he wanted.

The race to fill the post of health minister, vacant since resignation of Lajos Molnár, another Free Democrat, was more hotly contested. The
party leader is believed to have supported Attila Erdôs, but the party's executive committee, voted for Ágnes Horváth, the other candidate put up for the vote by the party leader.

Ágnes Horváth's task will be to oversee the introduction of a healthcare system based on multiple insurance providers. According to Kóka, the party's choice of Horváth resulted from a belief that an experienced healthcare operator would be needed for the position. Horváth previously served as state secretary in the health ministry under Lajos Molnár.

Attila Erdôs, party officials argued, was "a good administrator" but lacked the detailed knowledge needed for the role. Koka said: "We bore in mind that there would be very little time to get to know the portfolio."

Nonetheless, it has been suggested that Horváth's nomination represents a victory on the part of Budapest mayor Gábor Demszky, who lobbied strongly on her behalf. In a press conference last week, he said: "It is in the interests of the capital for Horvath to become the
minister, because there are a whole range of promises that have been made, and we rely on the state secretary to make them reality."

One party insider told the news portal Hirszerzo that Erdôs, who was a senior manager at GE Healthcare, was "an outstanding organiser, with
no obvious ideology," but that managerial skills were not necessarily enough in the "irrational" world of public administration.

Fred Boot

Legend revived

2007 - plan

Pannonia motorbikes first started rolling off the factory production line in Csepel, Budapest in the autumn of 1954 and continued to do so until the mid seventies, when production was stopped, even though the bikes had begun to attain cult status due to their capacity, reliability, speed and design.
Now, thirty two years later, Pannonia Motors Hungary is set to start production again and with a completely new bike, the Pannonia TL 2007, which combines classical beauty with capacity.
long-ago hungary/pannonia.htm

Remembering together

(photo by Bence Járdány - on the photo to see the gallery

A memorial was held for the the victims of Holocaust on April 15, 2007 in front of the House of Terror. The commemoration started with a prayer on Széchenyi Rakpart after which the crowd walked to the House of Terror where the Hungarian Academy of Music gave a concert and politicians spoke. The memorial has taken place annually since 2001, with April 16 remaining significant since 1945, when the National Socialists began transporting Jewish people to the ghettos in Kárpátalja. The March of Life started early on Sunday night from the Holocaust Memorial Centre and continued onto the garden of the Synagogue in Dohany Utca
All these programs and more are organised as the part of the Holocaust Remembrance Week which takes place between 12-19 April 2007. 

A bit of reading

The author Umberto Eco visited Budapest for the 14th International Book festival of Budapest. The fair featured both cultures and authors of distant continents such as India, China, Canada and Japan, as well as those of neighbouring countries. The guest of honour this year was Umberto Eco. The writer participated in a podium discussion, where the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to which he he replied with a short anecdote. Eco is not only famous for his novels, like
The Name of the Rose, the Baudolino or Foucault's Pendulum, but for his scientific work too.
The book festival started on April 12 and will continue until 15 April 15, 2007.

Hungarian in space


Hot on the heels of the first Hungarian cosmonaut, Bertalan Farkas, a certain Charles Simonyi, anAmerican billionaire of Hungarian origins, is on the space travel trail on board the Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft.
Take off was on Saturday, April 7 at  7.31pm in Bajkonur, Kazakhstan, with the billionaire being accompanied by two Russian cosmonauts, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov who are staying on the International Space Station, replacing the former crew. As a space tourist, Simonyi paid about 20-25 million dollars and endured 6 months of intensive training to prepare himself for the 10 days he is set to spend in space.

After two days, the Soyuz docked successfully today at 9.11pm CET and joined the ISS.
Simonyi, 58, claims to have been interested in space since childhood. At thirteen he was selected and sent to Moscow as a Junior Astronaut by the Hungarian government where he met cosmonaut Pavel Popovich.

Even though he is a tourist during his stay, Simonyi will actively participate in four different areas of the research work of the Station. He is also constantly updating his blog during his stay on

B.Farkas -1980aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaTogether - 2006aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaC.Simonyi - 2007

The first Hungarian spaceflyer was Bertalan Farkas astronaut, who set off to space with the Russian Valerij Kubaszov on 25 May 1980 on the Soyuz 36 as a part of the Soviet space project. He stayed on the Russian space station, Salyut 6, for eight days and returned on the 3 June 1980.