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Hungarians lighted a thousand candles to mark the 40th anniversary of the country's 1956 anti-Soviet uprising Wednesday, but crowds were sparse in the most low-key commemoration since communism collapsed in 1989.

The biggest crowd, about 3,000 people, gathered in the early evening at Parliament, where President Arpad Goncz and his wife, Zsuzsa, lighted the first of the candles on the steps in memory of the victims.

Some 25,000 people were killed in the Oct. 23 uprising, which posed the biggest challenge at that time to Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Another 250,000 people fled from Hungary when Soviet troops crushed the revolt in November.

Despite the efforts of 1956 veterans to spark interest in one of the formative events of Hungary's modern history, crowds remained sparse throughout the day, even after the weather changed from rain to sunshine.

Despite the political character of the event, the relatively low attendance and general lack of interest of the younger generation are signs that 1956, while remaining a milestone for Hungary, is fading into the history books.

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