Mass farmer protests to paralyze Prague Monday: Here's what you need to know

Thousands of tractors will cripple traffic in parts of Prague in protest against agricultural policy; officials recommend working from home.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 16.02.2024 11:06:00 (updated on 16.02.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

With a large-scale farmers’ protest set to take place in the Czech capital on Monday, Feb. 19, the City of Prague has cautioned of mass road disruptions and advised people to work from home. Here is everything you need to know about the reasons behind the huge demonstration and its potential effects.

Why are farmers protesting?

Farmers’ protests have become an EU-wide trend in recent months, with demonstrations particularly intensifying in France, Spain, Germany, and Poland. Czech farmers have also been feeling the pain recently and are joining their European counterparts to voice their discontent. 

Their main grievances are rising production costs, higher taxes, excessive environmental rules (with particular annoyance at the EU’s Green Deal), more bureaucracy, and the recent emergence of cheap imports. 

"It [the Green Deal] is a disaster and the Agrarian Chamber won't do anything about it," said last week Chairman of the agricultural holding Rabbit and former president of the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic Zdeněk Jandejsek, who is the protest’s co-organizer.

What exactly are Czech farmers going to do on Feb. 19?

The Association of Independent Trade Unions (ASO) says that “over 1,000” farmers with tractors nationwide will drive to Prague on the morning of Feb. 19, purposefully disrupting traffic and causing blockades. 

They have already held smaller-scale protests nationwide in smaller cities and towns, such as in Liberec.

ASO says that the number of planned protesters and tractors is growing massively by the day. The City of Prague says that traffic may therefore be paralyzed not only in the capital, but also in parts of Central Bohemia. "The entire area may come to a standstill," Prague municipality warns.

Where will the main areas of protest be?

According to Czech police, protest participants “plan to block the main road [the large Wilsonova highway] in both directions in front of the Ministry of Agriculture.”

Farmers will also congregate in other parts of the city: “It will be a big protest. We will have Malostranské náměstí occupied,” said Jandejsek earlier.

The City of Prague notes that other main roads, such as Sokolská Street in Prague 2, will be partially closed and disrupted for the whole of Monday as firefighters and police will station their vehicles on that road.

The police say they do not know the “exact routes” the tractors will take to Prague, and organizers are staying quiet about which other roads (if any) they may block.

When will it start?

The City of Prague has warned residents and visitors that “the tractors should arrive in Prague around 6 a.m., and the organizers plan their departure from the Ministry of Agriculture at 3 p.m. However, the scale of the event may paralyze the city in terms of traffic even into the night hours”.”

The main protest should be contained to one day, although Jandejsek said last week that the protest may go on for “four days.”

What do authorities say?

The City of Prague's central message is to avoid driving by car in the center of Prague on Feb. 19 to avoid added disruption and chaos. Residents should instead use trains and public transport wherever possible.

Protest organizers are being cooperative and communicative regarding their plans, the police say. However, the police affirmed that they would not make any exceptions to the highway law due to the protest – “all drivers must unconditionally respect all laws and rules of the roads.” 

The police also said that some tractors may not be legally allowed to enter and drive through Prague’s main roads.

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