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Approximately 100 neo-Nazis attend Workers’ Party gathering in Prague

Prague, 29.10.2009 7:09, (ROMEA)

Yesterday approximately 100 neo-Nazis led by the Workers’ Party (Dělnická strana - DS) gathered on náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad in Prague. The event lasted a little more than an hour. Participants listened to speeches and started to disperse at around 14:30. The gathering, called a “Day of National Unity”, was accompanied by security measures involving dozens of police officers and an anti-conflict team.

"No police intervention was necessary because the gathering took place in total calm,” Prague police spokesperson Andrea Zoulová told ČTK at the scene when the meeting was over. She said police were monitoring all of the 28 October commemoration events in the city and had evaluated the DS gathering as a high-risk one.

DS chair Tomáš Vandas was the first speaker. In a speech lasting roughly half an hour, he criticized the current political situation and leading politicians. He also spoke about the party’s program and criticized the government’s proposal to ban it. The Supreme Administrative Court has already received the government motion, but Vandas believes the court will reject it just as it rejected the one submitted by the last cabinet. "There is nothing to be worried about, our conscience is clear," Vandas said, adding that he would participate in the next parliamentary elections no matter what the court decided.

Vandas also referred to last week’s raid on members of the ultra-right which resulted in detectives charging 18 people, including the chair of the Prague DS organization, Patrik Vondrák, and party member Michaela Dupová. Both are now in custody. Vandas repeated his assertion that the raid was related to the government’s attempt to ban the party and said the authorities are conducting a “desperate search for evidence.” "We demand an end to this police persecution and the release of political prisoners in the Czech Republic,” he said. "Today they are sitting in judgment against us, but we will be judging them next.”

At the end of his speech, Vandas called on those present to participate in a gathering on 17 November in Prague. The next speakers included Martin Zbela, chair of the Workers’ Youth, who called for a collection to be taken up to support “post-1989 political prisoners”, and DS vice-chair Petr Kotáb. Well-known faces from the ultra-right scene were also on the square, such as Erik Sedláček and the alleged former spokesperson for the neo-Nazi National Resistance group, Petr Kalinovský.

Several groups expressed their opposition to the gathering, such as the Students against Racism initiative. Their members put up posters around the square prior to the event calling on people to take an active stand against fascism, neo-Nazism and racism.

Invitations to yesterday’s event appeared on the website of the neo-Nazi National Resistance organization. Neo-Nazis from the Autonomous Nationalists had originally planned to gather in Otrokovice, but their gathering was canceled. "Instead of Otrokovice, come to Prague to express your dissatisfaction on 28 October and 17 November,” the National Resistance website read.

Last year’s DS gathering on 28 October at náměstí Jiří z Poděbrad lasted approximately half an hour. Between 150 -200 people came to hear speeches by party chair Vandas and vice-chair Štěpánek. Some of them were armed. Police officers took three people into custody to determine their identities and arrested another 10 for carrying blade weapons.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, Romea, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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