We want a decent Slovakia, people chanted in squares

On the eve of the Velvet Revolution anniversary, people protested in the thousands, calling for a decent Slovakia.

Bratislava protest November 16, 2018Bratislava protest November 16, 2018 (Source: Sme )

On the eve of the Day for the Fight For Freedom and Democracy, the November 17 national holiday when Slovaks remember the 1989 Velvet Revolution, thousands of people came out to the squares of Slovak towns to continue the wave of protests that started in the country in March 2018.

SkryťTurn off ads
Article continues after video advertisement
SkryťTurn off ads
Article continues after video advertisement

The 29th anniversary of student protests that brought down the totalitarian regime in 1989 found both Czechs and Slovaks protesting again.

On November 15, a massive protest gathering took place in Prague in reaction to the latest revelations about the reported corruption affairs of the Czech PM Andrej Babiš. For Slovaks, the November 16 gatherings were the tenth in the series of the For a Decent Slovakia protests that started in March, following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.

SkryťTurn off ads

"We are here because this is where we need to be," Zuzana Mistríková, one of the leaders of the 1989 student movement, told the crowd.

November 1989 legacy

The biggest gathering took place in Bratislava, where the crowd was estimated at up to 18,000, according to the Sme daily.

Faces of the Velvet Revolution stood on stage at the SNP Square once again. People responded by chanting the slogans of the revolution, like "This is it!" and ringing their keys. The iconic song of November 1989, Modlitba pro Martu (Prayer for Marta), also sounded on the square.

"We will win when corrupt power is definitively defeated," Zajac said in his address to the crowd, adding that the process has already started as shown in the recent municipal elections.

SkryťTurn off ads

Gál told the crowd that when he returns back home to Prague, where he lives, he will be able to say that he met a gathering of citizens rather than just a crowd in Bratislava.

Read also: What we didn't know about our freedom Read more 

"Our mission is to bring down fences that divide nations and states, rather than build barriers with empty talk," Gál told the protest-goers, and reminded them not to forget those "who do not sit at full tables".

"They are us too," Gál said.

Protesters called on Pellegrini

The Bratislava gathering took place after the atmosphere in Slovakia escalated once again over the past week.

The Denník N daily published an analysis of the doctoral thesis of Andrej Danko, detailing how it was copied from other authors and calling Danko a plagiarist.

Organisers of the For a Decent Slovakia protests described the investigation they were subject to by the police, based on an anonymous criminal complaint against them for organising an alleged coup and being paid from abroad.

These issues, as well as the recent verbal attack the former prime minister launched against journalists, were mentioned repeatedly on the stage in Bratislava.

Read also: We refuse Fico's attacks against journalists Read more 

The protest organisers Karolína Farská and Juraj Šeliga called on Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini not to let his predecessor drag Slovakia into the direction that Viktor Orbán is dragging Hungary.

"Finally send the Ficos and the Kaliňáks into political oblivion," Šeliga said.

Remembering Ján Kuciak

A group of journalists also appeared on the stage to stress the need for free media in a democracy, and to pay respect to their murdered colleague. Czech journalist and close collaborator of Ján Kuciak, Pavla Holcová, addressed the gathering. She told the people how the murder hit her.

"You helped us to get over our trauma by coming out to the squares," Holcová told the protesters, and pledged on behalf of her colleagues to finish the work Kuciak started.

Leading Hungarian intellectual, former dissident and former OSCE high representative for media freedom Miklós Harszti came to Bratislava to speak to the gathering too. He reminded Slovaks that the nations of Central Europe won freedom 30 years ago, but now they need to fight for it once again because those in power in all the Visegrad Group (Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland) want to take it away from the people.

Haraszti thanked the people of Slovakia that they are protecting the values of democracy.

Top stories

Foreigners' Police Department on Regrútska 4, Bratislava-Vajnory.

News digest: 20 questions for Foreigners' Police

New Zealand citizen assaulted in Bratislava, ex-interior minister taken to court, and another 'History Talks' edition.

7 h
Volkswagen will make all-electric versions of the Porsche Cayenne luxury SUV.

News Digest: Volkswagen Slovakia to produce all-electric luxury SUV

LGBT+ minority could face new difficulties, a suspect is charged in the Daniel Tupý murder case.

24. mar
Filip Toška holding chard in the hydroponic Hausnatura farm.

How a Mayan doomsday prophecy took a Slovak to hi-tech agriculture

Hydroponic farm run out of former telephone exchange.

9. mar
Bratislava Foreigners' Police department.

FAQ: How to interact with the Foreigners’ Police

Some officers are good – but some, even the police admit, are ‘a disgrace to the force’.

10 h
SkryťClose ad