300,000 Czechs demonstrate against PM Andrej Babiš in Prague on eve of 30th anniversary of Velvet Revolution

Organizer Million Moments said the protest was joined by Czech expatriates in 63 towns in 30 countries.


Written by ČTK Published on 16.11.2019 19:40:15 (updated on 16.11.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) – About 250,000 people joined the demonstration against PM Andrej Babiš at Prague’s Letna plain today, according to the police estimate, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said, while the organising Million Moments for Democracy group spoke of 300,000 demonstrators.

The T-Mobile operator said, referring to its data, that the attendance was about 257,000.

The previous demonstration the Million Moments staged in June was attended by about 250,000 people, which made it the largest public rally since the November 1989 Velvet Revolution. T-Mobile then estimated the attendance at 258,000 but later corrected it to 283,000.

Today’s protest started shortly after 14:00, with Million Moments asking Babiš (ANO) to resign by December 31 unless he sacks Justice Minister Marie Benesova (for ANO) and gets rid of the giant Agrofert holding, otherwise Million Moments would stage new protests in January.

Million Moments said the protest was joined by Czech expatriates in 63 towns in 30 countries.

Today’s demonstration is not aimed against the results of the [2017 general] election, which Babiš’s ANO movement smoothly won, but against the abuse of power by the election-winning politicians, Million Moments deputy chairman Benjamin Roll said in a speech opening the demonstration.

“November 17, 1939 and November 17, 1989 show us that we must not give up the fight for freedom and democracy even if they seem to be destroyed definitively and even if they seem to have returned definitively,” Roll said.

November 17 is the Czech national holiday commemorating the Nazi crackdown on Czech universities 80 years ago and the outbreak of the anti-communist Velvet Revolution 30 years ago.

Roll spoke about the fight for freedom elsewhere in the world, mentioning Hong Kong, Russia and China.

He said Czechia faces many problems such as neglected regions, people’s mass distraints, underfinanced healthcare and schools and problems with the environment protection.

Babiš has not been solving real problems but problems of his own. “The June Letna (protest) was no full stop but a colon. It was the beginning of a long-distance run,” Roll said.

He said Babiš and President Miloš Zeman abuse their power and divide the country between themselves.

“We do not protest against the election result, we protest against the abuse of power by those who won the election. Can they really do anything? Should we really come to term with this? No one, including them, can do anything,” Roll said.

Zeman was first elected president in 2013 and re-elected for another five years in early 2018.

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