Czech Republic: Hundreds protest the President's politics
Hundreds of people assembled yesterday afternoon on Hradčanské náměstí in Prague, where organizers convened a gathering against populism and the politics of Czech President Miloš Zeman. After listening to speeches, the participants marched to Wenceslas Square, where a concert to celebrate the state holiday of the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy took place.
Those attending the assembly, which was called "We Do Not Forget!" (Nezapomínáme!), carried banners reading "This country belongs to all", apparently a reaction to one of Zeman's speeches in which he stated the opposite, "We Don't Want Another Totalitarian Regime", "I don't want a President who lies", various puns on Zeman's surname such as "ZEXIT", and images of a large pair of red underpants, evidently a reference to the action undertaken by the group Ztohoven (The Way Out), members of which flew a gigantic pair of such underpants from Prague Castle instead of the President's standard last year as an act of protest. Many people wore the Czech tricolor pinned to their clothing, just as was worn during what is usually referred to as the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
Those assembled also flew the flags of the European Union, NATO, and Tibet. Philosopher Daniel Kroupa and Holocaust survivor Petr Riesel, who was imprisoned at the Terezín concentration camp, told the crowd they object to the current proposal by a group of MPs, led by Zdeněk Ondráček (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - KSČM) to criminalize public defamation of the President once again.
"[Those legislators] have reminded us of the situation that brought this society to its feet 27 years ago," Kroupa said. Riesel also said that the euphoria of the Velvet Revolution has disappeared and that the only people now voting are the Communists and frustrated skeptics in the country, not anybody else.
"The heroism of the Charter 77 signatories and the dissidents is being profaned," Riesel said. Others who addressed the assembly included the chair of the Pirates party, Ivan Bartoš, the priest Ladislav Heryán, and literary historian Martin C. Putna.
Zeman did not attend any of the public celebrations of the 17 November holiday and was not at Prague Castle either. He spent the day at the presidential residence.
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