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Saturday, 4 May, 2002, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Protest at Orban's surprise land sale

The outgoing Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, has been strongly criticised by the incoming leaders over a decision to sell off up to 500,000 hectares of arable land which is currently in state hands.

Mr Orban's surprise announcement came after his conservative Fidesz party narrowly lost last month's parliamentary elections to a socialist liberal alliance.

He said he wants to make the land available to Hungary's small-scale farmers before the new government sells it to large enterprises.

A trade union, which represents larger farms and cooperatives, has joined the socialist and liberal parties in condemning the move but it has been welcomed by an association representing small-holders.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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