Budapest averts neo-Nazi clashes

By Thomas Land, October 30, 2008

DozensĀ of suspected neo-Nazi activists armed with homemade weapons including Molotov cocktails were arrested by police in Budapest on the eve of ceremonies marking the anniversary of the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution.

Police also seized several bombs, as well as hand grenades.

But the ceremonies were conducted in the absence of major incidents, marking a welcome departure from previous years as both the October 23 anniversary of the revolution and National Independence Day on March 15 had attracted recurring mass neo-Nazi violence.

This year, the police introduced new preventive tactics, surrounding and searching potential troublemakers and arresting suspected activists before they could engage in organised action.

Another development forestalling violence was a major split recently dividing the Hungarian Guard, a neo-Nazi paramilitary organisation modelled on the bygone Hungarian Arrow-Cross movement that murdered thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

Nevertheless, the two successor movements of the Guard managed to hold rival demonstrations this year, donning their black uniforms and marching in formation.

In one middle-class Jewish neighbourhood, annoyed residents pelted them with rubbish from the upper floors of their apartment blocks.

Last updated: 1:36pm, October 30 2008