Prague Greens smash symbols of global market

EVENTUALLY, it seems, every dream must turn sour. Four Prague police officers were injured and several dozen people arrested at the weekend in protests in which shop windows, including that of McDonald's on Wenceslas Square, were smashed.

In the wake of the "velvet revolution" of 1989 - the most peaceful of all the east European revolutions, itself partly triggered by indignation at police violence - Prague became the place to be. It was always one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, even when it was locked in the political Stone Age of a hardline communist regime.

After 1989 it underwent a renaissance - politically under its famous playwright president, Vaclav Havel, and economically. It became a magnet for Western youth. What Paris had been to Americans in the 1930s, Prague became in the 1990s.

The once-quiet Charles Bridge, one of the city's most famous and elegant landmarks, became so crowded at all hours of the day with thousands of tourists and temporary residents that it was scarcely possible to glimpse the bridge itself. Backpackers and bus parties kept the place permanently busy.

However, not all Czechs were enthusiastic about the changes. The tourism boom brought millions of pounds in much-needed foreign currency as Prague became a leading destination, but Czechs often found themselves left out of the loop.

Radical economic change brought high unemployment and stark poverty. There was the constant tension, too, between the need to do everything possible to bring foreign money into the city, and the need to preserve the distinctive character of Prague. Some began to feel that the Czechs' own identity was under threat.

The latest demonstration, billed as the "Global Street Party 98" was in protest at the effect of economic globalisation on the environment. The clashes came after crowds gathered for a rock concert-cum-protest timed to coincide with the G8 economic summit in Birmingham. As several thousand left the concert and marched on the city centre, a small group hurled paving stones, breaking the windows of a McDonald's restaurant - the third such attack.

Mainstream environmental groups condemned the violence. Greenpeace regretted that the protest had been described as ecological, "because that damages the image of preserving nature and the environment". The chairman of the environmental pressure group Duha complained: "This is abusing the name of the environmental movement."

Martin Bursik, the environment minister, was equally quick to draw a line between the demonstrators and other environmental groups. He argued: "Nobody can seriously think that the programme of the ecological movement equals looting and stealing salami."

For other politicians, it was an opportunity to sling some mud ahead of parliamentary elections next month. The former Communist Party called on the interior minister to resign. Vaclav Klaus, the former prime minister, attacked ecological groups who "abuse the issue of clean water for their own ends".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Physics Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Secondary teachers required for supply roles in Sudbury

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers re...

Senior Marketing Executive (B2C, Offline) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successfully con...

Marketing Executive (B2C, Offline) - Wimbledon, SW London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An established and highly...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style