An estimated 283,000 people attended a demonstration against Andrej Babiš at Prague’s Letná Park on June 23, 2019, demanding the resignation of the Czech Prime Minister.
The size of the crowd easily makes it the largest Czech demonstration since November 26, 1989, when a reported 800,000 people met – also at Prague’s Letná Park – to demand an end to four decades of communist rule.
The widely-reported number of 283,000 attendees at Sunday’s demonstration was provided by local mobile operator T-Mobile, who calculated the size of the crowd based on mobile phone data.
Numbers from Prague Police, according to Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, placed the size of the crowd at 200,000 at the start of the demonstration at 16:30, and 250,000 by the end.
Expats.cz reporters cut through the crowds to capture some exclusive video of the demonstration:
Besides the record numbers in attendance, news coverage of the demonstration on Czech television also set a record. An estimated 245,000 viewers tuned in to watch live coverage of the protest on ČT24, or roughly 12% of all TV viewers in the Czech Republic at the time.
Like the Velvet Revolution, the protest was a peaceful one. Prague police reported no incidents of violence or any unlawful conduct during the two-hour event, which lasted from 16:30 until roughly 18:30.
The size of the demonstration severely impacted traffic in the Prague 7 areas surrounding Letná Park yesterday, and numerous streets needed to be closed to all automotive traffic.
Due to the hot weather, meanwhile, first responders dealt with numerous incidents of fatigue. An estimated 70 people needed to be treated for exhaustion or minor injuries during the event by Prague emergency responders and Red Cross volunteers, ten of whom were taken to hospitals.
“The situation on the ground was not easy in terms of organizing interventions and logistics,” Prague EMS spokespersonJana Poštová told members of the media, adding that during the course of the two-hour event, Prague emergency responders treated as many people as they did on New Year’s Eve.
Like previous protests in Prague, Sunday’s demonstration was covered by international media including US news server CNN, who broadcast scenes from Letná live to viewers across the world. In other media:
The New York Times: In the Largest Protests in Decades, Czechs Demand Resignation of Prime Minister
The Wall Street Journal: Czechs Gather to Protest Autocratic Drift in Central Europe
PBS Newshour: Massive crowd in Prague call for Czech PM’s resignation
While the Velvet Revolution demonstrations in Prague 1989 led to the end of four decades of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, the current protests have yet to make an impact on the country’s current leadership.
For the third time in the past two years, the government of Andrej Babiš will face a no-confidence vote on Wednesday, but still lacks support of a majority in the Czech Parliament.
Babiš himself, meanwhile, appears unfazed. During yesterday’s record-setting protest in Letná , the Prime Minister took a selfie with wife Monika while enjoying coffee and rhubarb cake.