Parties on Monday felt like a rebellion against the present Czech president.
To shouts of “Step Down! Step Down!” Czechs pelted President Milos Zeman with items including sandwiches, eggs and tomatoes where a student rally started the revolution in Czechoslovakia, as he stood side by side with the presidents of Germany, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia at the university campus.
Security guards used large black umbrellas to protect other presidents and Zeman from flying projectiles. German President Joachim Gauck was hit in the head via an egg as the presidents were unveiling a plaque to commemorate the 1989 occasions.
“Shame, shame,” protesters in the group of thousands repeatedly yelled at Zeman, even as the other presidents were applauded. “I am not fearful of you!” Zeman retorted to the group.
Fury in the Czech Republic has been growing against Zeman as critics accuse him of betraying the commitment to human rights enshrined by Vaclav Havel, the Velvet Revolution’s hero who became Czechoslovakia’s first post-communist president. Zeman’s adversaries mention his pro-Russian position in the Ukraine struggle, recent praise of Chinese leaders on a visit to China and remarks seen as downplaying the police crack down 25 years past.
Zeman additionally used a vulgar term in describing in a live radio broadcast who spent time over hooliganism charges in a Russian prison camp — political prisoners.
The center of Monday’s commemoration was the road in downtown Prague where police brutally suppressed a peaceful anti-communist student march that arrived a week following the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 17, 1989.
The Velvet Revolution started at Charles University with fervent speeches against the hardline communist regime, prompting a large number of pupils to march downtown. The road was obstructed by law enforcement from both sides, before assaulting the protesters with truncheons, squeezing them with armed vehicles; hundreds were injured. Undeterred, the pupils went on strike and bunches mushroomed in the days that followed.
On Dec. 29, 1989, Havel, a dissident playwright, became Czechoslovakia’s first democratically elected president in a half century.