Czech ministers warn that extremists may attempt provocations on state holiday 17 November
During the public events in the Czech Republic on the 17 November state holiday there is the risk that extremists will attempt provocations, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (both Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD) said today after meeting to discuss the current security threats facing the country. Sobotka said concerns over the course of the celebrations are connected to tensions in society sparked by the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Police informed the public today that more officers than originally planned will be deployed to the streets tomorrow. The Police Presidium, however, said there is no risk of a terrorist attack.
According to cabinet members, 17 November is primarily meant to honor the victims of totalitarianism and the day should not be abused to disseminate extremism. "In the context of the increased tensions in connection with the assassinations in Paris, the presence of security units will be increased on the streets of Prague on 17 November," the PM said.
The Police Presidium says more officers will be deployed in other cities. "Our patrols will primarily be deployed where there are bigger numbers of people. We will patrol not only at the announced assemblies in the capital of the Czech Republic, but also in other regions, for example, in Brno and Ostrava," Police Presidium spokesperson Jana Macalíková said in a written statement.
Concerns over the peaceful course of the celebrations of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day are stemming from indications that extremist groups might want to disrupt public assemblies, according to Chovanec. "We have signals that some extremist groups would like to abuse 17 November for a certain display of their politics," the Interior Minister said.
"I would like to ask that people consider 17 November to be an occasion for reverence and not give the extremists any room to disseminate hatred," Chovanec said. Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO), who also attended the extraordinary cabinet session with representatives of the security units, added that the greater deployment of the forces of order is not intended to induce the feeling that repression by the state is returning.
"As a Government, we are doing all we can to arrange for this day to unfold in a dignified, safe way for our citizens," he emphasized. The Defense Minister also pointed out that 17 November is a day for celebrating a freedom that was long fought for.
On the streets of Czech cities, according to the Police Presidium, special forces units will be on alert, as will operatives from the criminal police and detective services. Mounted police and units that work with dogs are also prepared for deployment.
It is still the case that international airports, train stations and other high-risk places are under heightened police supervision. In Prague there will be a demonstration by the Bloc against Islam, convened "to support the opinions of the President of the Republic about immigration and Islam".
Czech President Miloš Zeman is scheduled to visit the scene of that demonstration in order to commemorate the events of 17 November 1939 and 17 November 1989. The sympathizers of migrants will also be assembling under the slogan "This country belongs to all - Refugees welcome".
The Workers Social Justice Party is also holding a demonstration. In Brno a "demonstration for socialism and against capitalism" is also being planned.
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