Budapest (MTI) – Demonstrators showed their solidarity with daily Népszabadság on the square in front of Parliament late on Saturday.
The demonstrators, who included a number of the newspaper’s staff, other journalists and politicians from the opposition, filled the centre of Kossuth Square.
Many chanted “Népszabadság”, “Democracy”, “We will not allow it”, “Orbán must go” and “Free country, free media”.
Népszabadság’s owner, Mediaworks, said on Saturday it was suspending publication of the newspaper to focus on shaping a new business model. The paper’s circulation has dropped 74 percent while it has racked up more than 5 billion forints (EUR 16.4m) in losses over the last ten years, Mediaworks noted.
Népszabadság journalist Miklós Hargitai told the demonstrators that staff scheduled to work on Saturday had not been allowed into the paper’s offices. “That shows exactly how much of a business decision this was,” he added.
Hargitai said Népszabadság’s staff had not received a pay rise since 2008, though their salaries had been cut twice since 2010.
It is the job of a newspaper to keep power in check, he said. “That’s why there won’t be a Népszabadság from Monday, because the paper did its job too well,” he added.
The demonstration was organised by the Facebook group for freedom of the press.
The president of the European Parliament reacted to the decision on the daily in a twitter message saying that the “sudden closure of Népszabadság sets a worrying precedent”.
“I stand in solidarity with Hungarians protesting today,” said Martin Schulz.