Prague sees largest anti-government protest since 1997
21. 4. 2012 20:03
Roughly 80-120,000 came to Prague center to protest against government and demand early elections
Prague - Tens of thousands of people gathered today in the Czech capital to protest against the government. It was the biggest demonstration since 1997, and possibly the largest protest since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.
Probably more than one hundred thousand people came to Prague's Wenceslas Square at 1 PM (CET). The number of people that attended the demonstration was similar to a protest against the government of Václav Klaus (currently the Czech president) in 1997.
In 1997, the labor unions that organized the protest estimated the number of participants at 120,000, while the police spoke about roughly 60,000 demonstrators.
Today's demonstration brought to Prague's main square 120,000 people according to the organizers, while the police estimates the number of participants at 80-90,000.
The organizers included not only Czech labor unions but also associations of disabled people, students and various anti-government initiatives. Their representatives spoke to the rally: union leader Bohumír Dufek threatened with general strike in case the government does not hold snap elections, while economist Ilona Švihlíková called the ministers "sociopaths".
Roughly 500 police officers were deployed to maintain order.
"It is a clear reaction of the people to the current situation," said Chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka about the demonstration.
PM Petr Nečas and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek called the protest "politicized", and the PM accused the opposition Social Democrats and Communists of using the demonstration to gain electoral support.