Prague protests: Thousands of Czechs take to the streets after President attacks media

Milos Zeman used inauguration speech to blast media for criticising his anti-migrant and pro-Russia rhetoric

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 15 March 2018 16:22 GMT
Around 4,000 people attended the rally in the capital's Wenceslas Square
Around 4,000 people attended the rally in the capital's Wenceslas Square

Thousands of Czech protesters took to Prague‘s main square to challenge the country’s President after he attacked the media.

As he was sworn in for his second five-year term last week, Milos Zeman used his inauguration speech to accuse public broadcaster Czech Television and other journalists of favouritism and bias.

Mr Zeman, who has been in office since 2013, blasted the press for criticising his anti-migrant and pro-Russia rhetoric.

He previously prompted controversy after he brandished a replica gun with the words “for journalists” inscribed on it during a press conference.

Demonstrators light their mobiles as they protest against Milos Zeman’s attack on the public broadcaster Czech Television at Wenceslas Square

Around 4,000 people attended the rally in the capital’s Wenceslas Square on Wednesday, according to the protest’s organisers.

During the protest against Mr Zeman and the country’s Prime Minister, Andrej Babis, demonstrators waved flags, lit up their mobile phones and jingled their keys — a gesture used during the country’s communist era, when it came to symbolise the unlocking of doors and was used as a way of telling the communists to leave.

The square was previously the site of huge demonstrations against what was then Czechoslovakia’s communist government.

On Thursday, students from 200 schools across the Czech Republic gathered in further protests.

Students sing the Czech national anthem as they gathered in further protests 

It comes after Slovakia’s Interior Minister resigned following the biggest street protests the country has seen in decades over the death of Jan Kuciak, an investigative journalist.

Mr Kuciak was investigating fraud cases involving politically-connected businessmen in Slovakia, which split from the Czech Republic 25 years ago.

Mr Zeman has previously referred to journalists as “manure” and “hyenas” and joked with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, that some journalists at an event needed to be “liquidated.”

Press freedom is becoming a contentious issue in the Czech Republic, as ownership of the media becomes increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy individuals.

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