Released: 18.10.2020, 12:32
Prague – Hundreds of police officers are patrolling around Prague’s Old Town Square due to the protest of football fans. A number of police supplies were also delivered to the main railway station, where groups of mostly young people with Czech flags were gathering an hour before the demonstration. There are squares drawn in chalk at the protest site, each defining a space for twenty people. More than one cannot stand together due to coronavirus measures.
Police President Jan Švejdar has previously announced that the police will call hundreds of reinforcements from the regions to the capital today. According to a ČTK correspondent, there are currently dozens of police officers in the Old Town Square itself, while others are waiting in the adjacent streets and on the nearby Wenceslas Square. For example, the mouth of the narrow Melantrich Street was occupied by heavily-clad police officers, creating a truss that every newcomer had to go through.
So far, the demonstrators are staying in smaller groups, most of which do not have airways covered. In addition to flags, they brought banners aimed, for example, against wearing veils. For the time being, the police are rather negotiating with them, they need to draw their attention to the ban on drinking alcohol.
Under the current regulation, a maximum of 500 people can take part in the protest, who must be divided into groups of twenty, with a gap of at least two meters between the groups and all with their mouths and noses covered. If these rules are not followed, the police may call on the convener to seek redress. Alternatively, he may report it to the offense proceedings.
The convener of the event, which is the civic association of the Civil Dissatisfaction Movement (HON), is primarily responsible for the order. The organizers of the event claim that it is not good or reasonable to delay some diseases at the expense of others, which, according to them, is happening in the current situation.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek (CSSD) on Friday expressed concern that football hooligans would misuse the demonstration to provoke violence. Regarding the participation of sports fans in the demonstration, the HON association stated in advance on Facebook that fans “take it as a chance to prove that they are not just primitives who can only beat each other and make a mess”.
In today’s Prima Television Party, he said that the demonstration is irresponsible in the current situation. According to him, the police officers are exhausted from the way the coronavirus is advancing into their ranks, when 200-250 cases of covid-19 infection or quarantine are registered daily. According to him, they are in charge of other things than “washing with hooligans”. Hamáček stressed that the whole event will cost a lot of money and effort, but he believes that the police can handle it.
On Saturday, several hundred football fans and supporters of the far right gathered in front of the Slovak government office in Bratislava due to coronavirus measures. Police used tear gas and a water cannon against the radicals who threw stones and bottles at them.
Due to the unfavorable development of the coronavirus epidemic, stricter anti-epidemic measures are in force throughout the Czech Republic. The professional activities of athletes are also canceled, which also applies to the first football league and the hockey extra league. Exceptions to the new rules may be given to interstate matches.
HON also organized a Prague demonstration, which brought together hundreds of people at the end of September. In front of the seat of the Ministry of Health, they expressed their disagreement mainly with the mandatory wearing of veils in the interior of buildings.