Czech protest group to stage Prague demonstration ahead of presidential election

A Million Moments for Democracy will gather at Prague Castle, the seat of the Czech president, tomorrow ahead of next weekend's elections. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 07.01.2023 09:53:00 (updated on 11.01.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech protest group Milion chvilek pro demokracii (A Million Moments for Democracy), vocal opponents of former Prime Minister and current presidential candidate Andrej Babiš, will stage a demonstration at Prague Castle tomorrow titled "We Will Complete the Change: a Democrat at the Castle."

In 2018 and 2019, A Million Moments staged some of Prague's biggest demonstrations since the Velvet Revolution against then-Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who was accused of EU subsidy fraud.

While Babiš is currently on trial in Prague over those allegations, he also polls among the top three Czech presidential candidates alongside former Brno university lector Danuše Nerudová and former NATO general Petr Pavel ahead of next weekend's presidential elections. The top two candidates will advance to a final run-off election two weeks later.

Tomorrow's protest aims to symbolically bid goodbye to "an era of arrogance and contempt that was embodied by [outgoing] President Miloš Zeman," Million Moments spokesperson Hana Strašáková told journalists yesterday.

Strašáková added that the group expects democratic values including openness, sincerity, courage, and humanity from the incoming Czech President.

The Million Moments group was asked by Castle officials to choose another venue for their Sunday protest, given the lack of space at the location and Prague Castle's popularity among tourists.

However, the group stands by a decision from Prague's Municipal Court concluding that the courtyard is a public space where people may gather, and will proceed as planned. They only ask participants to show up early and be prepared to pass through a security checkpoint that was introduced under Zeman in 2016.

Sunday's demonstration is scheduled to take place from 2:00 p.m. In response to the Castle's statement that the location was popular among tourists, A Million Moments has asked participants to come dressed as visitors to the landmark, with maps, cameras, snacks, and other tourist gear.

The group has also called on demonstrators to write on posters and placards what they will expect from the incoming Czech president. Zeman's successor will assume office in early March.

A Million Moments for Democracy was formed in 2017, after the ANO party and its head Babiš assumed control of the Czech government. Since then, it has staged numerous protests against the former Prime Minister.

In June of 2019, they staged a demonstration on Prague's Letná Plain that was attended by more than 250,000 people, one of the largest public gatherings in the country since the 1989 protests that brought an end to communism in the country.

Over the past year, A Million Moments has staged multiple demonstrations in Prague in support of Ukraine and its people.

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