Hungarian grassroots student union Hallgatói Hálózat (Student Network) started a blog that curates freedom of information requests related to higher education. The blog, titled Transparent Education [hu], is using the Hungarian public freedom of information request service KiMitTud [hu] to track down the allegations of misuse of funds by university student governments. The blog's author Dániel G. Szabó was the one who sued the Faculty of Law at ELTE University in order to publicize the information on the Faculty's student government spendings. The aim of the blog is to promote the use of freedom of information requests, and to make the spending of public funds transparent at Hungarian colleges and universities.
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Students from the Faculty of Law at ELTE University in Hungary sued the faculty's student union after they denied a freedom of information (FOIA) request. The students wanted to know who received bonus payments from the union's monthly budget of around $3,300. They wrote on their blog ÁJK HÖK Figyelő (Faculty of Law Student Union Monitor)[hu] that the student union head unilaterally decides on bonus payments. The initiative of the law bloggers gained support of the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information as well, and their first court hearing [hu] attracted some 30 members of the public.
According to a report [hu] on Facebook page “The Constitution is Not a Toy,” some 100 protesters have occupied the Hungarian governing party's headquarters; a pro-government crowd, however, has also showed up at the scene. The protesters voiced their opposition to the planned new amendment of the Hungarian constitution, a basic law that was enacted in 2011, after Fidesz Party won with a two thirds majority in 2010, and has been at the center of heated debates in and outside the country ever since. The latest review of the amendment by the Princeton University professor Kim Lane Scheppele was published here.
Hungarian musicians signed an online petition [hu] against the restrictive definition of “Hungarian music” included in Hungary's media law, which considers only Hungarian-language productions as “Hungarian music.” The petitioners argued that the definition is not only excluding many artists from being part of the Hungarian music and culture, but is discriminatory when it comes to the application of language quotas in radio broadcasts. Radio stations have to apply a 35-percent quota of “Hungarian music” in their music shows. The regulation came into effect in July 2012 [hu].
The Hungarian Student Network and the Hungarian High School Network posted a declaration [en] “about the rule of law” in Hungary – and are planning yet another protest rally [hu] in Budapest on Monday, Feb. 11:
Today’s proposal for a constitutional amendment has made it obvious – even for those who so far doubted it – that the government is openly dismantling the system of checks and balances. According to Article 12 of the proposal, the Constitutional Court will not be allowed to scrutinize the content of any further amendments, which in effect means that the government and its two-thirds parliamentary majority will be able to pass any amendments they want. [...]
Just been through a 12-hour kidnapping ordeal in Aleppo. Yesterday morning me, a Mexican and a Basque journalist were abducted by unknown gunmen near the Ezzaa frontline in eastern Aleppo. We were handcuffed, blindfolded and held in a cell for the rest of the day. Eventually we were stripped of all our possessions and left by the roadside in an abandoned area of the city. We then made our way to the headquarters of the Al Tawheed brigade, one of the main armed opposition groups in Aleppo. We are now well and unharmed and out of Syria. [...]
Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Pirate Party, reinterprets the wars of religion that devastated Western Europe in the XVI and XVII centuries in terms of the current struggle to control information through overbearing legislation related to copyright and freedom of expression:
The religious wars were never about religion as such. They were about who held the power of interpretation, about who controlled the knowledge and culture available to the masses. It was a war of gatekeepers of information.
Atlatszo.hu published [hu] a hidden camera video of Fruzsina Tóth, a protester representing the students (she is also a first-year sociology student), talking to a woman who claimed to be a journalist of the Hungarian Radio. At the Dec. 17 protest, students demanded the Hungarian Radio to read their 5 + 1 points live. The hidden camera video was recorded when Ms. Tóth entered the building to hand the students’ petition to the radio's presenters. The woman on the video was defending the Hungarian government's decisions. More »
Gery Greyhound published a documentary [hu] on his Tumblr blog, about the ‘making of’ an illegal voter database in Pécs in 2009, when the city held a mid-term mayoral election. A similar leak took place in 2010, when a voice recording of Fidesz party director Gábor Kubatov was published online, revealing that the party had a registry of voting preferences of tens of thousands of voters. The case was referred to as the “Kubatov list.” Mr. Kubatov also appears in the current documentary, which was allegedly published by a person who participated in the production of the video meant for internal circulation.
Hungarian Spectrum posts an English translation of the appeal by the members of the pre-1989 Democracy Movement to organizations of the European Union, in which they share their concerns regarding the new electoral law:
If the next Hungarian elections in 2014 were to be held under the recently rammed-through rules, they would be illegitimate and fraudulent which would be a first in the European Union. [...]
On Nov. 27, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Parliament in Budapest (photos) to protest a Hungarian far-right MP's call “for Jews to be registered on lists as threats to national security.” Some of the protesters wore yellow Stars of David. The rally took place despite the removal of the Facebook event page for it by Facebook admins.
‘Az igazi Mao’ blog [hu] is trying to draw attention to the contemporary China that Hungarian citizens may not be too familiar with; its title refers to a Hungarian experimental documentary, The Real Mao, which tells a fake story of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong. In a recent entry, ‘Az igazi Mao’ blog shared an infographic [hu] comparing the size, the economy, the population, as well as the number of luxury cars sold and junk food restaurants built, in Hungary and in China.
Representatives of Amsterdam Cycle Chic, Berlin Cycle Chic, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, Vienna Cycle Chic and Vitória Cycle Chic gathered for a mini-summit in Budapest. This cycle chic event, organized by Hungarian Cycle Chic bloggers, was tied to a street fashion show. More photos are available here [hu].
In Mutatione Fortitudo says that the two main opposition parties in Azerbaijan have united behind the government in its criticism of a European Parliament ruling condemning the 31 August pardon, release, and promotion of an Azerbaijani soldier who axed to death a sleeping Armenian counterpart on a NATO Partnership for Peace program in Budapest, Hungary, in 2004.
It seems that to some politicians money means more than the honour of their own country or their relations with other countries. This case could affect the stability of the whole region.
Scary Azeri comments on the extradition to Azerbaijan of Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani soldier who murdered an Armenian counterpart on a NATO training course in Budapest, Hungary, with an axe. The blogger criticizes the presidential pardon and honoring of the killer in her native Azerbaijan while also abhorring the celebration of Safarov's freedom by many of her compatriots.
Le café pédagogique links [pdf, fr] to the results of a survey launched in 15 cities from 7 U.E. countries, among immigrants in possession of their legal documents and with or without citizenship of their host countries. The questions were aimed at integration, which appears to be highly wished for.
Vastagbőr blog [hu] is promoting the use of atlatszo.hu's new website KiMitTud ['WhoKnowsWhat'], which allows users to send freedom of information requests to any institutions responsible for spending public funds in Hungary. Vastagbőr wrote: “Those who have ever asked themselves these questions, ‘I wonder how much this cost?’ or ‘Who has been contracted to do this?’ should not wait but try to find out the answers themselves!” KiMitTud runs on Alaveteli.org’s engine and follows the examples of the UK-based WhatDoTheyKnow and AskTheEU, which is promoting transparency in the EU.
Véleményvezér blog commented [hu] on the news of the most popular citizen movement's activists being checked by the National Tax and Customs Administration, interpreting it as a sign of fear by the ruling party Fidesz: “Two years after [winning] a two-thirds [majority], they're already catching flies, they're chasing civil activists.” The movement being targeted now started from a Facebook page ‘One Million for the Freedom of Press in Hungary‘ (aka Milla; hu; over 99,000 followers) and organized several rallies against the new media law and the government's politics. On the Hungarian national holiday on March 15, Milla is planning to hold another rally.
Blogger Ulrika Lejnarová, highlighting air pollution data from the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute [sk], wonders [sk] why Slovakia, while often paying attention to the critical conditions in Hungary [en], is doing little to inform its own citizens of the domestic situation adequately, in order to avoid health complications.
The Contrarian Hungarian reports that three right-wing demonstrations in support of the Hungarian government have taken place only this weekend, in protest against increased international pressure on Hungary for its defunct economy and political turmoil.
Vastagbőr blog collected [hu] some internet memes about the President of Hungary Pál Schmitt, the newest of which appeared after hvg.hu news site published an article titled ‘Serious Suspicion of Plagiarism in Pál Schmitt's Ph.D. Dissertation‘ [hu]. According to hvg.hu, the President had allegedly plagiarized his dissertation (‘Analysis of the Modern Olympic Games Program') from the text of a Bulgarian sports expert Nikolai Georgiev. The Presidential Office claims [hu] that Schmitt and Georgiev knew each other well personally, collaborated and used the same sources.
Spotted by Locals: Experience cities like a local features a few dozen locations, including CEE cities of Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Krakow, Ljubljana, Prague, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius, Warsaw, and Zagreb. A random sample post from Zagreb, Croatia: Hrelić Flea Market – The Aleph of Zagreb; from Bucharest, Romania: The Haunted House – Armenian Neighbourhood; from Sofia, Bulgaria: Nissim – A True Old-School Bookstore.
Redjade, a Hungary-based activist, published a video interview [en] with Balázs Nagy-Navarro, the leader of the public media trade union. Nagy-Navarro went on hunger strike with two of his colleagues after the Hungarian public television MTV broadcast a report in which chief judge Zoltán Lomnici was blurred from the background of an interview. The journalist accused the production leadership of the TV channel of being unprofessional. The quality of the news published by public media outlets has recently been questioned by an international mission of free speech NGOs as well.
Hungarian Spectrum and The Contrarian Hungarian write about the Oct. 23 anti-government rally, organized through a Facebook community called Egymillióan a magyar sajtószabadságért [hu; 88,272 'likes']/One Million for the Freedom of Press in Hungary [en; 720 'likes'] – and about a pro-government rally, which was scheduled to take place on the same day some 700 meters away from the opposition rally, but was cancelled on Oct. 17, allegedly due to PM Viktor Orbán's Oct. 23 visit to Brussels.