Tens of thousands attend Prague rally in solidarity with Ukraine

Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska thanked people for their continuing support for Ukraine at a two-hour rally on Wenceslas Square.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 31.10.2022 11:09:00 (updated on 31.10.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Tens of thousands of people attended a rally on Wenceslas Square yesterday, ČTK reports. Dubbed the demonstration "against fear and hatred," and staged by the Million Moments group, the rally saw the participation of tens of thousands of people, according to police estimates.

The rally was intended to express solidarity with Ukraine and highlight the necessity to protect democratic values.

Czechia supports Ukraine through the "darkest period in its history"

In a video message, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska thanked Czechs for their support of Ukraine.

In her video message, Zelenska said that Ukraine was experiencing "the darkest period in its history," adding "light would keep burning as long as people did not shut their eyes to the war." Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, and fighting is ongoing across the country.

Zelenska added that Russian missiles have been targeting power and heating plants in the past month. “They want to deprive us of light. Freeze us. Intimidate us,” she said.

Russia is no longer just fighting against the Ukrainian army, she said. “It is fighting against mothers who cannot warm and prepare infant formula for their children without electricity, it is fighting against children who cannot study without electricity, it is fighting against the elderly who cannot call either their loved ones or a doctor without a mobile signal,” she said.

However, Russia is fighting a light that will never go out, Zelenska said. She cited a power outage during a concert of the Lviv Philharmonic in Lviv when musicians finished the program with flashlights, and an exhibition opening in Kyiv where people brought candles and flashlights.

Ukrainians will likely spend the upcoming winter in the dark, she noted. “However, we will not let Russia draw us and the whole world into darkness – the same darkness in which Russia has been living for many years. Darkness will never win,” Zelenska said.

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“As long as people all over the world do not turn a blind eye to our war, our light will never go out,” she said, adding that those who came to Wenceslas Square for the rally had glittering eyes and burning hearts.

“Millions of Ukrainians and I thank you for this support. This is living evidence that it is impossible to take the light from those who have it inside,” she added.

Million Moments founders Mikuláš Minář and Benjamin Roll also addressed the demonstration, calling on the people not to fear, and not to succumb to manipulations and "the dealers of fear" as they labeled the organizers of an antigovernmental rally held on Wenceslas Square on Friday, which was a national holiday.

An opponent of "gratuitous fearmongering"

One elderly woman in the crowd who was interviewed by Novinky.cz said she came all the way from Hradec Králové because she was opposed to fearmongering. She was ashamed of the people who attended Friday’s antigovernmental rally, whom she called "rednecks."

She added that refugees who came here from Ukraine are not parasites, but were forced out of their homes. “I am willing to give up half my pension to help these people in some way,” she said.

Singer Adam Mišík sang the Czech national anthem at the end of the demonstration, followed by the anthems of Slovakia and Ukraine.

Participants carried Czech, Ukrainian, and EU flags, and the upper part of Wenceslas Square had giant 10-meter flags of the Czech Republic and Ukraine. Additionally, the main stage has signs saying “Czechia against fear” and “We will manage it.”

Prime Minister Petr Fiala tweeted that it was "excellent news" that people so many people attended the rally. “People are not indifferent to where our society is headed. We must actively take care of freedom and democracy, ” he said. “Let's protect these values and not be afraid to do the right thing! ”

The Million Moments for Democracy movement also held several rallies in support of Ukraine shortly after the February invasion. The movement was established after the 2017 general election that former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s ANO movement won.

The group staged protests criticizing then–Prime Minister Babiš for his conflicts of interest and failure to keep his pre-election promises. The biggest Million Moments demonstration took place in June 2019 in Prague's Letná plain and drew up to 250,000 people.

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