Million Moments for Democracy, the anti-government protest movement that brought hundreds of thousands of Czechs onto the streets last year, has set its sights on helping traditional democratic parties opposed to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is under criminal investigation, win the next parliamentary elections. At a press conference in Prague on Tuesday afternoon the movement’s leaders announced a new concept for the organisation called Million Moments 3.0. I asked its deputy head, Benjamin Roll, to define what it means and explain their new
The ‘A Million Moments for Democracy’ initiative long calling for Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš’s ouster has announced another wave of protests
and events starting in late February.
Under the banner ‘Relay for Democracy’, the group plans to host a protest/debate every week in a city in a different Czech region, with the last in Prague.
The aim is to highlight important national and local issues and Babiš’s alleged corruption and conflicts of interest.
‘Million Moments’ founder Mikuláš Minář told reporters Tuesday even more important than seeing Babiš resign is the country’s future.
“Therefore, our main goal for the next two years is to work with democratic parties to win the parliamentary elections”, he said.
In his traditional Christmas message to the nation, President Miloš Zeman began as usual on a positive note – highlighting the country’s economic successes – before turning to what he views as problematic areas. In a 16-minute televised address otherwise void of religious symbolism, Zeman also branded himself a “climate heretic” and urged Czechs to think for themselves rather than follow “false prophets”.
Hundreds of people outside Prague attended protests against Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš on Thursday evening, organised by the group Million Moments
for Democracy. The demonstrations took place in Brno, Ostrava, Plzeň and
other regional centres and towns.
The organisers of the event say Mr Babiš is in conflict of interest and should step down. They are also demanding the removal of his minister of justice, Marie Benešová. At the latest demonstration in Prague on Tuesday, they announced their plan to continue with the protests next year.
The initiative “A Million Moments for Democracy”, which is calling for
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) to step down over alleged corruption and
conflicts of interest regarding EU funds and subsidies, held another mass
rally on Tuesday.
Police estimate around 50,000 people turned out for the demonstration on Prague’s Wenceslas Square while ‘Million Moments’ put the figure at 80,000 demonstrators.
The initiative has held a series of protests against Babiš since late April, when Czech police proposed that he be charged with EU subsidy fraud. Their largest demonstration, in mid-November, drew some 300,000 people.
It has not been a good week for the Czech prime minister. Not only has a European Commission found Andrej Babiš to be in a conflict of interest, demanding the Czech state return the money paid to the Agrofert conglomerate he founded, but criminal proceedings have been restarted against him in a subsidy fraud case that has dragged on for years. Mr Babiš’s coalition partners are thus far standing by him, but another mass anti-government demonstration is being called for next week.
Another mass demonstration against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš took place on Prague’s Letná plain on Saturday. Police estimate that at least 200,000 people gathered on the plain to voice their feelings. The organisers of the event, Million Moments for Democracy, called on the prime minister to either end his alleged control of Agrofert, the company he founded, and fire his justice minister Marie Benešová, or resign himself. Unless he does so by the end of the year, they threatened to continue with the demonstrations.
Protesters gathered on Prague's Letná plain to demonstrate against
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Minister of Justice Marie Benešová,
calling on both to resign. According to the organisers there were as many
as 300,000 people in attendance. The two-hour demonstration, which began at
2pm on Saturday, was the latest in a series of protests that have been
going on since April this year. Organisers Million Moments for Democracy
set out new demands on the prime minister, while also calling on opposition
parties to find a way to increase their strength and vowing to organise new
demonstrations if the prime minister interferes in the country's
justice system, media, receives a pardon from the president, or if his
alleged conflict of interests results in a withdrawal of EU subsidies.
Protestors suspect the Czech prime minister has been seeking to influence a criminal investigation into suspicions he committed EU subsidy fraud. However, the prime minister denies this and earlier this year, the criminal proceedings against him regarding an alleged case of subsidy fraud related to the Stork's Nest farm were halted by the state attorney investigating the case.
Hundreds of Czechs living abroad joined today's protest on
Prague's Letná plain from remote locations in Europe, America and
Asia. They called on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to get rid of his control
of Agrofert, the company he founded, which they believe he still has
influence on. Alternatively, they believe he should resign.
Mr. Babiš relinquished his stake in the company in 2017, but a preliminary EU audit suggested he still controls his company via trust funds.
The 30-year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution culminates this Sunday, November 17. Aside from official state tributes, a wide range of commemorative events, including concerts, processions and debates, will be taking place in cities across the Czech Republic during the whole weekend. Meanwhile, opponents of the government are planning a massive demonstration in Prague.