[18-08-2008 13:42 UTC]
Around 300 neo-Nazis gathered in the eastern city of Hradec Králové on Saturday, holding a brief demonstration in one of the city squares before dispersing. They had hoped to attend what had been dubbed a “political cultural” event in the Hradec’s outdoor cinema, but in the end the city council banned it.
They came, they wandered about a bit, and then they went home. But they did manage to hold a brief public demonstration, despite threats from the city council that their gathering was unauthorised and would be dispersed.
Initially the far-right extremists were meant to attend an event called “Freedom Day” in the city’s outdoor cinema, a rock concert organised by a group called the Worker’s Party. That was until monitoring groups warned the event was a front for a planned gathering of hardcore neo-Nazi groups such as National Resistance and the Autonomous Nationalists. The Worker’s Party’s Tomáš Vandas angrily rejected that claim when confronted by Czech Television at Hradec Králové station.
“As soon as anyone expresses any critical views about the European Union, as soon as anyone expresses any critical views about what’s going on in this country, they’re immediately labelled a neo-Nazi to discredit them in the eyes of the public.”
Those who came to attend the Workers’ Party event – and observers claimed they did include skinheads from National Resistance and the Autonomous Nationalists – wandered around the city centre in the rain for a while before holding an impromptu demonstration. But why were they allowed to do so, when the original event had been banned by the council? Deputy mayor Martin Soukup explained to Czech Television.
“Well, they were none too pleased about the concert being banned. So they were wandering round the city centre, and paradoxically they ended up right in front of the regional police headquarters. So obviously the police had no problem filming the whole meeting. However in the end there were no public order offences committed, no property damage, so for that reason we decided – based on what the constitution and the declaration of rights and freedoms says – that we had no justification to break up the meeting. It took place peacefully and they dispersed peacefully. But we will be taking proceedings against them for holding the meeting without permission.”
For which the Worker’s Party could be fined up to 5,000 crowns, or 300 dollars. The Worker’s Party, meanwhile says it will sue the council for the losses incurred when the rock concert at the outdoor cinema was banned. So no violent clashes in Hradec this weekend, but monitoring groups warn that Czech neo-Nazis are holding such meetings with increasing regularity.