Prague, March 8 (CTK) – Nearly 40,000 people have signed a petition against the election of Communist (KSCM) MP Zdenek Ondracek, a former policeman who had taken part in crackdowns on peaceful anti-Communist protesters in 1989, to the head of a body supervising the police, the organisers told CTK on Thursday.
About half of the 40,000 people signed the petition at a rally organised in Prague on Monday, in which about 25,000 people participated according to analysis of T-Mobile cell phone carrier. The other half of the signatories were participants in street protests against Ondracek organised in 16 other Czech towns on the same day and others who added their signatures.
Lucie Kohoutova, one of the organisers of the street protests, said people made it clear that they will not let politicians show contempt for the democratic values and the fight for freedom in 1989.
Another organiser, Vojtech Otevrel, said both the people and the organisers were ready to protest again if needed.
In reaction to the strong public protest, Prime Minister Andrej Babis, whose ANO movement helped Ondracek win the post of the head of a parliamentary commission supervising the police inspection GIBS last week, said he would propose Ondracek’s dismissal. The traditional parties, which have been opposing Ondracek’s nomination for a long time, welcomed this.
When talking about his work for the Czechoslovak Communist-era riot police unit, Ondracek previously said he had always acted in accordance with law and had nothing to regret or apologise for.
On Tuesday, Ondracek resigned on his own shortly before the Chamber of Deputies would have taken a vote on his dismissal. He said his resignation had nothing to do with the few people who yelled in the streets.
The Communist Party said it was outraged. KSCM leader Vojtech Filip repeatedly said on Thursday Babis is an untrustworthy partner who does not meet agreements. The KSCM will reconsider its readiness to tolerate the possible next ANO government, Filip said.
On Wednesday, the organisers of the protests gave te petition and all the signatures under it to the representatives of the Chamber of Deputies.
Otevrel said the protests held all over the country showed that the effort of some politicians to divide people into Praguers and the rest was nothing but manipulation by some politicians.
President Milos Zeman created the label “Prague cafe” for his critics, indicating that these people were intellectuals who had nothing in common with everyday life.
The protests were a strong message sent to politicians that “the Czech public does not want not only Communists but also representatives of other extremist opinion streams,” Otevrel said.
Right-wing populist leader Tomio Okamura (Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD) was elected Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman late last year. In reaction to Okamura’s recent statements that were labelled challenging the Roma Holocaust by some experts and politicians, Czech democratic parties have been seeking his dismissal from the post, but so far in vain. Babis rejected it, arguing that Okamura made an apology.