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Minister: Police stand the test of large demonstrations

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Prague, Feb 22 (CTK) – The recent Prague rallies supporting or rejecting refugees seem to be the largest demonstrations in the country in the last 20 years and they clearly showed that the police do their work well, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists on Monday.

Up to 10,000 people participated in the demonstrations on February 6 and 1000 police officers were on duty because of them, he said.

Chovanec on Monday presented the result of a check of the steps taken by the police that was carried out in reaction to criticism that challenged the role of the police during the street protests.

He said such large demonstrations are a new phenomena and the police must learn to cope with them and apply their tactics accordingly.

“But there is no reason to say that the police failed,” he said.

Chovanec said the check has not revealed any mistake in the police interventions.

He said if the speculations that the police do not protect citizens and that they provoke violence had been proved, both the police president and the interior minister, or himself, would have to leave their posts.

The police were criticised for letting a masked group attack a march of left-wing activists. One of the critics was Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO).

Chovanec said the police separated the two camps and pushed the attackers away.

The Prague police managed to deal with the incident in four and a half minutes, their chief Milos Trojanek said.

Pelikan said through his spokeswoman that the result of the police check presented on Monday unfortunately did not surprise him. He again said the videos released showed that the police failed to meet their role as they did not intervene against 40 people who were violating law.

Employees of the public Czech Radio (CRo) previously said a policeman refused to take action against participants in a rally against Islam who tried to break into the radio’s outside broadcasting van and who eventually switched off the van’s source of energy.

Chovanec said the policeman about whom CRo complained unfortunately has not been identified yet.

CRo expects the police to send it an officially report on their investigation, spokesman Jiri Hosna said.

Hosna said broadcasting vans would be accompanied with CRo’s own guards at similar events in future.

The most serious incident on February 6 was an attack against the Klinika centre that provides aid to refugees. A masked group threw Molotov cocktails in the centre. The police have been investigating the attack.

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