Pro-democracy group calls for nationwide protests against Russian-leaning Czech president

Million Moments for Democracy is set to demonstrate against President Zeman's pro-Russian sentiments in Prague's Wenceslas Square Thursday.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 28.04.2021 07:50 (updated on 28.04.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Following a controversial television interview given by Czech President Miloš Zeman, the Million Moments for Democracy civic group has called for nationwide protests against what it perceives as the president’s pro-Russian bias. Demonstrations will take place in Prague, Brno, Plžen, Zlín, and dozens of other Czech cities on Thursday, April 29.

“Instead of supporting his own state, the president repeats the same tales as Russian propaganda and Russian disinformation websites,” said Million Moments for Democracy co-founder and leader Benjamin Roll.

Opposition parties have also criticized Zeman for an address made on Prima TV last Sunday, in which he claimed that there were two investigative versions into an explosion in an ammunition store in Vrbětice, south Moravia, in 2014.

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats, ČSSD) declared on Monday that there was only one version of the investigation, and that it concerned the movement of members of GRU (Russian military intelligence). Prime Minister Andrej Babiš made a similar statement after his talks with Zeman on Monday evening.

Babiš is regularly the target of criticism from the Million Moments group. Last week, a European Commission audit concluded that Babiš does have a conflict of interest, as he both influences the distribution of EU subsidies while at the same time maintaining control of the Agrofert business group through trust funds. Babiš’ conflict of interest contributes to the decay of the Czech Republic too, said the group’s spokesperson.

The Prague demonstration will begin at 18:00 on Wenceslas Square. Speakers include former Minister for Human Rights and Ethnic Minorities, Michael Kocáb, and Eugenie Číhalová, who represents the Russian community in the Government Council for National Minorities.

Organizers have advised attendees to respect anti-epidemic sanitary measures at their public events on Thursday, and that it will be mandatory for participants to wear respirators.

The Million Movements for Democracy group was established after the 2017 general election. Previous demonstrations have focused on scandals involving Babiš. In 2019, a crowd of 250,000 people participated in a massive Million Moments demonstration on the Letná plain in Prague, in the largest public demonstration since the fall of communism in 1989.

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