Released: 18.10.2020, 12:32
Prague – A demonstration against the government’s anti-epidemic measures, which took place today in Prague’s Old Town Square, turned into a battle with the police after the official end of the event. Some protesters from the ranks of football fans tried to break the police cordon and threw pyrotechnics at the police. Police deployed a water cannon and detained some of the attackers. At least 20 people, including police, were injured. According to an estimate by the Prague City Hall, about 2,000 people took part in the protest, although the number allowed was 500. Most of the participants did not have a veil.
“Police officers intervened only when there was a violation of the law by some participants. Violations of the Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic have been properly documented and will be reported to the relevant administrative body for resolution,” said Police Chief Jan Švejdar on Twitter.
“According to initial information, there should be about 20 injured people on the spot, including police officers. Injuries should be of a minor nature caused by skirmishes or tear gas, “Jana Poštová, a spokeswoman for the Prague Rescue Service, told ČTK. Several rescue crews and an Atego emergency car intervened on the spot, the rescuers activated the trauma plan.
The most dramatic skirmishes lasted about an hour. After the demonstration, the hooligans first started firing cannons, and the square was shrouded in smoke from smokestacks. The conflict itself then began at the mouth of Kaprova Street, which is the closest link to the seat of the Office of the Government in the Straka Academy. Some protesters have loudly announced their intention to go to the government building. Others were upset that the police “restricted their freedom” when they allowed only parts of the streets to leave the square. Bottles, rubbish bins and firecrackers began to fly on the police.
Heavily-clothed, dog handlers, cavalry police, and a water cannon were involved in suppressing the riots, pushing most of the rioters toward the astronomical clock. Police on the spot arrested the most active participants in the conflict, who resisted or, for example, attacked police cars or horses.
Hundreds of people remained in the square, although police urged them to leave the area. They chanted vulgar slogans against Health Minister Roman Prymul and police officers – such as “fuck Prymula”, “poor people” or “ACAB” (All Cops Are Bastards) and recorded the operation on mobile phones up close.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (YES) is shocked at how ruthless and selfish some citizens are who do not comply with government regulations against the covid and threaten themselves and others. In this context, he thanked the police and said that he was proud of their highly professional approach.
“Concerns were confirmed that organized football hooligans would misuse the convened demonstration. The demonstration itself violated government regulations, and therefore the organizer was called upon to end it, which he granted after some time,” Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (CSSD) told CTK in a text message.
The participants in the demonstration were also criticized by the Minister of Health Roman Prymula (for YES). According to Prymul’s statement for the serverthis demonstration is likely to yield hundreds more unnecessarily infected with coronavirus. “When I saw what was happening there, I consider it almost a contempt for the work of front-line health professionals who risk infection to minimize further morbidity and the spread of the disease,” Minister Prymulu was quoted as saying.
Even before the start of the demonstration, the police detained almost 50 people in connection with the protest, they had objects with them that could injure someone, the police said on. Police carried out dozens of checks at the pre-announced start of the demonstration at 2 p.m. She stated on Twitter that during the inspections, the police found pyrotechnics, boxers, telescopic batons, and a firearm. At the same time, the Act on the Right of Assembly regulates the obligations of participants who are prohibited from carrying firearms, explosives, pyrotechnic products or other objects that can harm another’s health.
The demonstration was organized by the civic association Movement of Civil Dissatisfaction (HON). Originally, he had planned a two-hour program, but he ended the event after an hour. There were significantly more protesters than 500 allowed and most of them did not have veils. Under the current regulation, the demonstrators were to be divided into groups of twenty, with at least two-meter spacings between the groups. The square was full of people.
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.