Prime Minister Andrej Babiš spoils Velvet Revolution anniversary for many Czechs, says CNN

Sunday's Velvet Revolution anniversary will have a bittersweet moment for many Czechs, says the US news server


Written by ČTK Published on 17.11.2019 11:11:15 (updated on 17.11.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

Washington/Berlin/Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) – Sunday’s Velvet Revolution anniversary will have a bittersweet moment for many Czechs, who will mark it “amid allegations, confirmed by a court decision, that their PM collaborated with the StB, the Communist-era secret police,” the U.S. CNN television wrote today.

It reacted to the mass demonstration against Babiš held in Prague today and attended by 250,000 people, according to the police estimate.

The demonstrators “are demanding the resignation of PM Andrej Babiš, a business tycoon who is listed as an StB agent in its official archives,” CNN said.

The protest organisers, the Million Moments for Democracy group, staged several demonstrations, the largest since the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution, earlier this year already, CNN said.

“While many in the Czech Republic disagree with Babiš and want him gone, the PM has plenty of supporters too. His political party ANO won the European Parliament elections in May with 20 percent of the vote,” the CNN wrote, adding that Babiš’s “populist politics included a firm rejection of the EU’s proposal for a new immigration quota that would split refugees among the member states.”

“He was among the four leaders who, in June, rejected Europe’s proposal to slash carbon emissions,” CNN said.

The German Deutsche Welle radio remembered the Czech demonstrations for the termination of the communist rule 30 years ago. Some are protesting in Czechia again now, with a similar motivation,” the radio said.

The euphoria from the November 1989 time is fading out. Many Czechs are taking in the streets again, no long against the one-party rule but because politicians rooted in the pre-1989 system are back in power, Deutsche Welle said, also mentioning Babiš’s suspected previous cooperation with the StB communist secret police and the fact that his minority government is kept afloat by the Communist Party (KSCM).

“We want people to remember the Velvet Revolution. We are not launching a new revolution, we want to protect what was achieved in 1989,” Deutsche Welle quoted Benjamin Roll, from the Million Group organising the protest today, as saying.

World press agencies, too, have mentioned the Prague demonstration today. The U.S. agency AP said this is the second big protest against Babiš, whom the demonstrators consider a threat to democracy and the Czech judiciary.

The German DPA writes about the protest attendance of hundreds of thousands and the “persisting conflict of interest on the part of Babiš, a multi-billionaire.”

“Many Czechs are asking themselves: what has gone wrong since the Velvet Revolution? They believed that by getting rich, people will automatically get better, but this is beyond reality,” Bishop Vaclav Maly, who was among the speakers at the demonstration today, and also at the anti-communist rallies 30 years ago, told DPA.

Reuters wrote that “around a quarter million Czechs rallied against the prime minister and president on Saturday over concerns the pair are chipping away at democracy”.

“Babiš and his populist ANO party remain by far the most popular but also the most divisive political force due to the businessman’s background before 1989 when he was a Communist party member and had contacts with the secret police,” Reuters wrote.

It said Babiš and Zeman tend to shun the celebrations of Sunday’s 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that toppled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

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