BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Protesters on Sunday demanded the resignation of the head of Hungary's tax collection agency and some of her colleagues after the United States issued entry bans against them because of suspected links to corruption.
Organizers said more than 10,000 people took part in the evening march in downtown Budapest, going from the headquarters of the tax authority to the Economy Ministry, which oversees it.
Gabor Vago, a former lawmaker from the Politics Can Be Different party, demanded the resignation of Ildiko Vida and her deputies and called on the European Union to investigate the tax authority, "since the domestic institutions have failed."
"If they don't resign by the 17th, we will have to consider the best methods of civil disobedience to force the government to back down," Vago said.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party comfortably won three elections this year — parliamentary, municipal and for the European legislature. Yet Orban is facing strong criticism for his efforts to centralize power and impose his vision of an "illiberal state," and last month the government shelved a planned tax on Internet use after tens of thousands protested the levy.
Mimicking that rally, protesters on Sunday also lifted their mobile phones over their heads, shouting "Orban take a hike" and "Democracy."
After over two weeks of speculation, Vida acknowledged in an interview published Wednesday that she and some of her colleagues had been notified by the U.S. Embassy in Budapest about the ban. No other officials have come forward.
Although Vida said she had informed government officials, the government said repeatedly that it didn't know who was affected and urged the U.S. to provide "credible information" about the alleged corruption.
On Oct. 18, the embassy said six unidentified people had been banned for "either engaging in or benefiting from corruption."