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Hungary: Rioters attack TV station

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNN) -- Protesters seized the headquarters of Hungary's state television network and set fires in and around the building early Tuesday after the country's prime minister admitted lying about the economy "throughout the past one and a half or two years."

Smoke and tear gas wreathed the headquarters of state broadcaster MTV, where police clashed with demonstrators around midnight Monday.

Officers turned water cannon on protesters, some of whom were trying to break into the building, and several officers were injured during the demonstrations, police spokesman Lajos Nenet told CNN.

The turmoil exploded Sunday, when state radio aired an audiotape of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany telling members of his ruling Socialist Party that his government had lied about the state of the country's economy throughout its two years in office.

"We lied throughout the past one and a half or two years," he said. "We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening and also at night."

Protests began Monday night outside Hungary's parliament and moved to the television station by midnight. The demonstrations drew as many as 10,000 people, many of them from the country's conservative opposition, to the streets outside the broadcast center, Nenet said.

The remarks came in a conversation taped during a party retreat in May. President Laszlo Solyom said the prime minister's admission has caused a "moral crisis" in Hungary, but Gyurcsany -- who has led the the NATO and EU member state since 2004 -- has vowed to remain in office despite the protests.

Gyurcsany's center-left coalition won a new mandate in April by a narrow margin, become the first Hungarian government re-elected since the Iron Curtain came down in 1989. Opponents had accused his government of manipulating economic data during the campaign.

On the tape, he said the government had botched economic policy "not a little bit, but very much. None of the other European countries have done such stupid things that we did."

Gyurcsany told interviewers he was referring to the actions of Hungary's political elite over several years, not just his government.

Journalist Akos Erdelyi contributed to this report.


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