Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic prepares to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. But three decades after the peaceful protest that toppled the Communist government of then-Czechoslovakia, Czechs are once again preparing to take to the streets as pressure intensifies on Czech PM Andrej Babis.
Protest organizers send ultimatum to Czech Premier Babis
The ‘Million Moments for Democracy’ movement, the local anti-corruption watchdog responsible for organizing the mass protests against Prime Minister Andrej Babis, issued an ultimatum to the Czech Premier.
Talking to reporters during a press conference on Monday, the head of the NGO Mikuláš Minář urged the Slovak-born Czech Prime Minister to meet their demands – dismiss the Justice Minister and give up all ownership of conglomerate Agrofert and his vast media holdings – or resign.
Government critics argue that, although Babis transferred his ownership of Agrofert into trust funds in 2017 to comply with anti-conflict of interest legislation, the Prime Minister is still de-facto owner and retains control over his vast business empire.
Under investigation by both domestic and EU authorities for possible conflict of interest, Andrej Babis has always denied any wrongdoing. The wave of mass protests gained momentum earlier this year after the Czech Premier appointed a close ally, Marie Benesova, as Justice Minister a few days after Czech police recommended his indictment, sparking fears of political meddling.
Prague braces for mass protest on Saturday
Should he refuse to step down, Minář said his movement would pursue the weekly nation-wide protests against his government.
The last one, held on Prague’s Letna plain in June, saw nearly 300,000 taking to the streets to demand his resignation – the biggest protest since the Velvet Revolution – and was the culmination of weekly protests held in the Czech capital and all across the country during the previous months.
The upcoming November 16 protest, held on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, is once again expected to draw tens of thousands of Czechs. Protests will continue all across the country in over 130 Czech towns and municipalities, as well as abroad, with marches due to be held in London, Paris and Brussels, among others.