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Massive Crowd Says Democracy Could Collapse

Czech protesters oppose Prime Minister Andrej Babis
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2019 6:05 PM CDT
People watch protesters demanding the resignation of the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, June 23, 2019. Protesters are calling on Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis...   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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(Newser) – Hundreds of thousands of people rallied Sunday in Prague to urge Prime Minister Andrej Babis to resign, assembling from across the Czech Republic for the capital's biggest anti-government protest since the 1989 pro-democratic Velvet Revolution that brought down the communist regime, the AP reports. The demonstration at Letna Park, a site of massive gatherings that significantly contributed to the fall of communism in what 30 years ago was Czechoslovakia, was the largest from two months of street protests opposing Babis. The protesters of 2019 said they didn't come to overthrow the current political system but to defend it. They consider Babis, a populist billionaire, as a threat to democracy, including the independence of the country's legal system.

"We demand the resignation of Andrej Babis," said Mikulas Minar, a student who put his studies on hold to help lead the recent demonstrations organized by a group called Million Moments for Democracy. Babis has repeatedly said he has no reason to resign. "It will likely be a long run," another organizer, Benjamin Roll, told the crowd. "The current situation is unacceptable." Opposition to Babis has been fueled by the appointment of a new justice minister as prosecutors are deciding whether to indict Babis over alleged fraud involving European Union funds. The protesters fear the new minister might undermine the independence of the Czech legal system, a threat that has brought the governments of Poland and Romania warnings from the European Union.

(Read more protests stories.)

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