Thousands of Czechs take it to streets, requesting prime minister’s resignation

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120 000 people have filled Prague’s streets, demanding Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš resignation following accusations of fraudulent use of EU finances, BBC reports.

This is the largest protest in the country’s history since the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

Protesters demand resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Czech Justice Minister Marie Benešová.

Both high-rank officials deny accusations of fraud and criticize European Commission’s document that demands return of EUR 17.5 million in subsidies. Czech President Miloš Zeman denied having plans to dismiss the prime minister. Coalition partners also say they are not prepared to turn against the head of the government, BBC reports.

Charges against Babiš surfaced in April. He denied accusations but Czech Interior Affairs Minister Jiří Ovčáček stepped down. Benešová was picked to replace him. She has also become a target for protesters.

Babiš came to power in 2017. He handed over his Agrofert conglomerate to two trust funds. However, an audit performed by European Commission revealed that he remains a true beneficiary of the company, which prompted EC to request return of EUR 17.5 million in subsidies previously provided by Europe to the company.

Babiš is the second richest man in the Czech Republic and former member of the Communist party. He came to power as the leader of a populist party in 2017, opposing corruption and maintaining euro-sceptic beliefs.

In spite of corruption scandals, however, his party won the European Parliament elections in the Czech Republic, receiving 21.2% of votes.

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