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Series of events to mark Nov 17 anniversary, Zeman to attend none

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Prague, Nov 9 (CTK) – A number of commemorative and cultural events will mark the significant November 17 anniversaries in Prague, but like last year, President Milos Zeman is not going to attend any and he will pay respect to the November 17, 1939 and 1989 events at home, his spokesman has said.

November 17, the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy and the International Students’ Day, is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, marking the anniversary of the Nazi crackdown on universities in the wartime Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939, and a student demonstration in Prague that triggered the anti-communist “Velvet Revolution” in 1989.

“The president is not planning to attend any event. As a direct participant in the November 17, 1989 [events], he will pay silent respect to them,” Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said.

He said Zeman is glad at having contributed, after a pause of many years, to the “revival” of Albertov, a site in Prague where the crucial student demonstration started 28 years ago.

At a November 17 rally in 2014, Zeman faced his opponents who booed him off and pelted him with eggs.

In the following year, Albertov was hired on November 17 by organisers of an anti-Islam demonstration at which Zeman was among the speakers and due to which the police barred students from approaching a November 1989 monument.

That is why student organisations hired the site for themselves last November.

Students will also meet in Albertov this time. Representatives of the academic and public life will address a remembrance event there.

At several places in Prague, the Freedom Festival will be held in commemoration of the Velvet Revolution, with former Czech PM and former Senate chairman Petr Pithart to be among the speakers.

A satirical carnival procession “Velvet Feast” will walk through Prague streets with the motto “This is no hoax,” aimed to provoke people’s critical thinking.

Another procession, with the motto “The Truth Has No Alternative,” will cross the city’s centre to warn against the spreading of fake news.

Annual commemorative events will be held at the Hlavka student dormitory in central Prague and in nearby Zitna street to commemorate the students killed in 1939.

In the evening, the Post Bellum group will bestow the Memory of the Nation Prize on personalities who showed heroism in a conflict with the totalitarian regime.

Concert for the Future will start in Wenceslas Square in the afternoon, organised by the Nerudny company.

A concert against totalitarianism will be held in the seat of the Faculty of Music and Dance of the Academy of Performing Arts.

Demonstrations on the national holiday are planned by the Young Greens party and two far-right groupings, National Democracy and the Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS).

The anniversary of the November 17, 1939 and 1989 events will also be marked at several places in Brno.

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