An estimated quarter of a million Czechs rallied in Prague on Sunday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, in the biggest show of public discontent since the 1989 Velvet Revolution which overthrew Communism.
The rally in Letna park was the culmination of a series of demonstrations in recent weeks against Babis, who has faced investigations over alleged fraud and conflicts of interest, claims he vehemently denies.
Organisers said they believed that about 250,000 people had attended Sunday’s rally. Phone operator T-Mobile said its network usage analysis put the number of participants at over 258,000. A police spokesman declined to give an estimate.
The total population of the Czech Republic is 10.7 million.
Protesters carried banners saying “Resign”, “We’ve had enough”, “We won’t give up democracy”, and others waved Czech and EU flags. Many families brought children to the rally, which was peaceful as were other recent protests against both Babis and his justice minister.
Wow. Drone footage of Protests today in #Prague Demanding Resignation of PM Babis over fraud.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) June 23, 2019
Babis has said people have the right to protest but has firmly refused to step down. His populist ANO movement remains the most popular party, although its support has dipped slightly in the past two months to 27.5%, according to a poll by Kantar agency released on June 9.
Babis also has enough backing in parliament, where a no-confidence vote planned for Wednesday is likely to fail.
Police proposed in April that Babis, a billionaire businessman-turned-politician sometimes likened to US President Donald Trump, should be formally charged for fraud in tapping a European Union subsidy a decade ago to build a hotel and conference centre outside Prague. He denies any wrongdoing.
The appointment of a new justice minister just after the police announcement prompted rallies by demonstrators suspicious that Babis was trying to influence proceedings. Babis has also vigorously denied that claim.
“Our country has many problems and the government is not solving them. It is not solving them because the only worry of the prime minister is how to untangle himself from his personal problems,” said Mikulas Minar, a 26-year-old theology student who set up the Million Moments for Democracy, a civic group that organised the protests.
“It is unacceptable for our prime minister to be a person under criminal investigation,” he told the crowd from a giant rock festival-like stage.
No politicians were invited to address the rally, the organisers said.
— Vexillology (@VexReddit) June 24, 2019
Filip Rubas, who joined protests in 1989 against the then communist regime, said he turned out on Sunday to send a message to politicians that they will be held accountable.
“We think our leaders need to be reminded very strongly that they do not own our country, that they are not above the law (or constitution) and that there are still enough caring people who are not brainwashed by hateful propaganda,” said Rubas, 50.
He travelled to the rally with his wife and a group of friends from Brno, the country’s second city, 200 km (125 miles) from Prague.
Babis, 64, suffered another setback from leaked preliminary results of an audit by the European Commission, which determined he is in conflict of interest as the beneficiary of trust funds where he had transferred his chemicals, farming, media and food business, valued at $3.7 billion by Forbes.
Babis insists the audit, which said companies in the trust fund should not be eligible for EU development subsidies, is wrong and this would be proven in the final conclusions, expected late this year or early in 2020.
Saturday Night Live mocks Trump as an unpopular dork at high school after disastrous NATO Summit
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on Saturday ridiculed President Donald Trump after he was laughed at by world leaders during a NATO Summit in London.
The skit featured Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emanuel Macron as the cool kids at the NATO cafeteria, while U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempts to join their cliche.
Trump asked to sit at their table, but they suggested he sit with Latvia.
They said the seat was for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was then invited to join the cool kids table.
The skit included Johnson taping an "impeach me" sign to Trump's back.
Watch a band in cow costumes sing about Devin Nunes at White House impeachment protest
Protesters clad in full-body furry costumes sang about Rep. Devin Nunes during a Saturday protest at the White House.
The protesters were dressed as cattle after the Fresno Republican sued a fake cow Twitter, @DevinCow.
The protesters changed the lyrics to the hit 1958 Chuck Berry song "Johnny B. Goode" to "Devin Nunes."
Video of the protested was posted to Twitter by Democratic strategist Parkhomenko, who was targeted by Nunes in one of his lawsuits.
The lyrics to the 1958 Champs song "Tequila" were changed to "subpoenas."
Shocking photos document the devastating flooding pummeling San Francisco
San Francisco was battered by a heavy winter storm on Saturday that caused localized flooding throughout the city.
"A low pressure system off the Northern California coast Saturday hurled bans of strong downpours into the Bay Area, triggering a flood warning for San Francisco," KPIX-TV reported.
"San Francisco Muni officials tweeted that train service between West Portal to Embarcadero Station had been shut down due to flooding. Several streets were flooded in San Francisco’s western neighborhood including knee-high water at 15th Ave and Wawona," the station noted.