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Anti-government protests held in hundreds of Czech towns

Brno, Czech Republic – Earlier this week, anti-government protests took place all over the Czech Republic. Kafkadesk attended the one in Brno, the country’s second largest city.

According to Czech media, around six thousand people took part in the protest in Brno on June 11th. The protest, which was jointly organized by Společně Brno (Brno Together) and Milion chvilek pro demokracii (A million moments for democracy), rallied people from the Moravian capital and its surroundings to speak out against the current government and call, as they have repeatedly done for the past several weeks, for the resignation of embattled Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Justice Minister Marie Benesova.

More than a dozen speakers from both organizations, as well as prominent faces from Brno, went on stage to read out their demands for the government. Their main request? For PM Andrej Babiš to step down.

In a recently released EU preliminary report, Babiš was found in conflict of interest over his ties to his former company Agrofert, an allegation he has repeatedly denied. Czech opposition parties also gearing up to challenge the Premier and are considering filing a vote of no-confidence in Parliament since the release of the report.

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Credit: Lorna Radtke / Kafkadesk

The EU report only added grist to the mill of anti-government protesters, who first took to the streets several weeks ago to express their fears for the independence of the judiciary. Protests initially called for the resignation of Marie Benešová, who was appointed at her post only one day after Czech police recommended the indictment of Andrej Babis for EU subsidy fraud in another criminal case faced by the billionaire Prime Minister. Babiš has labelled all these accusations as nothing more than slanderous statements and an attack against himself and the Czech Republic.

Another issue in the spotlight: the PM’s suspected past collaboration with the Czechoslovak secret police StB, under the name Bureš. At the front stage, a large poster hung in front of the Plague Column stating: “In Brno, Prague and the whole country, we’re driving away ‘StB’ officers”.

Josef Buchta, from the Brno-based B-side musical band, went on stage and expressed hope in the troubling situation: “I’m not asking for this semi-communist government to fall, but I hope that by next election, a definite end will be put to this” he said.

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The sign reads: “We don’t want Babišistán” (Nechceme Babišistán) / Credit: Lorna Radtke / Kafkadesk

Students, seniors, and families: people from all walks of life met up in Naměstí Svobody, Brno’s main square, to let their voices be heard, some participating in the protest while others simply observed. The mood of the crowd, which repeatedly chanted “resign” throughout the whole protest, was peaceful, but stern on their distrust of the current government.

Similar anti-government protests were held all over the Czech Republic, except in Prague, where the country’s largest march is scheduled for next Sunday: in total, over 310 towns hosted a protest on June 11th, including the Czech Republic’s main regional cities like Jihlava, Pilsen, Hradec Kralove, Pardubice and Olomouc, each gathering hundreds to thousands of people.

Many protesters expect the government won’t be able to ignore the popular discontent much longer. Their hopes largely rely on next week’s protest planned in Prague’s Letna Park : organizers are expecting an even-higher turnout than the last one held on Wenceslas Square, which had already attracted around 120.000 people – the largest protest in the Czech Republic since the fall of communism and the Velvet Revolution.

Photo 2- Map of protests June 11
Map of anti-government protests (signified with a heart symbol) that took place throughout the Czech Republic on June 11th. Source: Forum 24

You can watch a video of the whole protest in Brno here.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.