German leader egged by accident at Czech revolution memorial

17th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

The German president was hit Monday by an egg meant for his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman at a protest in Prague against the Russia-friendly former communist 25 years after the Velvet Revolution.

The demonstrations recalled the brutal suppression by communist police of a student march in Prague on November 17, 1989, that sparked the revolution, which brought a peaceful end to communism in the then Czechoslovakia.

Protesters angry over Zeman's pro-Russia stance and a vulgar diatribe targeted him with apples and eggs, but one egg hit visiting German President Joachim Gauck in the head, Zeman's office said.

The two leaders, along with the presidents of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, unveiled a plaque commemorating November 1989 at Prague's Charles University.

"As one would expect, Mr Gauck was shaken but he is continuing his programme," Zeman's office said, while the German embassy in Prague played down the incident.

"It was only a very little piece" of egg, spokeswoman Maike Freytag-Pitrocha told AFP.

The pro-Russian Zeman has broken ranks with both the European Union and NATO over the crisis in Ukraine.

"I've come to show Zeman the red card because I'm against almost everything he does -- his foreign policy, for instance," said protester Jarmila Rydlova from Prague.

She was one of more than 5,000 protesters, according to a Czech Television estimate, at the rally in central Prague where the students were beaten 25 years ago.

While the West believes Russia is pulling the strings in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Zeman has repeatedly described it as "a civil war between two groups of Ukrainian citizens".

He also said during a trip to Beijing last month that he wanted to learn how China "stabilises" society.

This month, Zeman angered some voters when he said in a radio interview that the centre-left government had "fucked up" a bill and called members of the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot "bitches", and used a sexual term to describe the band's name.

Zeman sparked more ire last week when he insisted the 1989 student protest crushed by communist police did not cause any "bloodshed" and was just one of "any number of rallies.

""We disagree with our president's behaviour, I hate the things he says," Prague student Vojtech Stros told AFP amid whistles from the crowd, many sporting badges of Velvet Revolution hero Vaclav Havel and carrying banners calling on Zeman to resign.

The November 1989 Velvet Revolution saw Havel, a dissident playwright, installed as the country's first post-war non-communist president a month later.

Czechoslovakia split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

Havel died in 2011.

© 2014 AFP

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