More than 100,000 protesters are expected to fill Wenceslas Square on Tuesday evening in what is forecast to be the biggest demonstration in the Czech Republic since the Velvet Revolution.
The protest is the latest in a series of demonstrations against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and newly appointed Minister of Justice Marie Benešová that have been occuring in Prague and other cities around the Czech Republic over the past months.
Babiš, one of the richest citizens in the Czech Republic, is no stranger to controversy.
The recent protests are the latest development in the 12-year-old “Stork’s Nest” case, in which the Czech Prime Minister is accused of fraud for misusing EU funds intended for small businesses.
In 2017, Czech police formally initiated criminal proceedings against Babiš after the Czech government lifted his parliamentary immunity. In April of 2019, police officially recommended charging Babiš in the case.
Immediately after that recommendation, however, Czech Minister of Justice Jan Kněžínek announced his resignation. He was replaced by Marie Benešová, a close ally of Babiš and longtime advisor to Czech President Miloš Zeman who many presume will not pursue criminal charges against the Prime Minister.
For the past six weeks, an increasingly-growing series of protests held in Prague and across the Czech Republic organized by the initiative Milion chvilek pro demokracii (A Million Moments for Democracy) have called for the resignations of both Babiš and Benešová.
Two weeks ago, an estimated 50,000 demonstrators filled Wenceslas Square.
In developments surrounding another Babiš case last week, the Czech Prime Minister was reportedly found to be in conflict of interest in a leaked European Commission report, a finding that could result in the Czech Republic losing funding from the EU.
Should the final European Commission report return the same decision, the Czech Republic may have to refund something in the range of 500 million crowns of subsidies to the European Union, money the country should seek from the Prime Minister’s company, Agrofert.
Agrofert, meanwhile, could lose in the range of five billion crowns of EU funding per year.
In Prague, the next planned demonstration organized by A Million Moments for Democracy had already been scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 6 on Wenceslas Square.
The protest had been expected to be the largest yet before the leaked European Commission report; afterwards, organizers saw a surge in those looking to participate. An estimated 100,000 people are now forecast to fill Wenceslas Square tonight.
“We will fill the whole square including the lower part,” A Million Moments for Democracy chair Nicholas Minář told local media.
“We expect that there will now be more than 100,000 people on the spot.”
Should tonight’s protest reach those numbers, it will be the largest Czech demonstration since the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
But while the Velvet Revolution toppled a 40-year communist regime, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš appears to be yet unfazed by the growing protests calling for his resignation.