Anniversary of Velvet Revolution marked by anti-government demonstrations
On Thursday, November 17th, the Czech Republic marked 22 years since the start of the Velvet Revolution as well as the 72nd anniversary of the events of November 1939 which resulted in the closure of all Czech universities by the Nazis and reprisals against students and intellectuals. But many Czechs used the holiday to voice their discontent with the current government policies.
“You were on the streets for solidarity and freedom. What you got is freedom without solidarity, freedom of corrupted capitalism.”
“I am convinced that the change was right and that in the end despite all problems the past 20 years have been successful.”
Even though the opposition Social Democrats are among the most vociferous opponents of the policies implemented by the centre-right government, party head Bohuslav Sobotka says the fall of communism was a change for the better.
“There has been a marked positive shift even though many people are rightfully disappointed by the economic inequality that has been growing lately.”
The capital Prague also saw demonstrations by far-right radicals and their opponents. Several hundred police monitored the situation to prevent potential clashes.
“In principle, the situation has turned out well. Of course, we have a thousand reasons to be dissatisfied with various details but those are our own particular problems and responsibilities. But our task was not to guarantee happiness and wealth for everybody. Our task was to change the political, economic and social system from communism to something completely different and we succeeded in that one hundred percent.”
Markedly absent from this year’s commemorations was the protagonist of November 1989 and later the country’s president Václav Havel. Upon his doctor’s recommendation, he spent the day in his country home in north-east Bohemia where he has been recovering from a recent bout of respiratory problems.