Hundreds of demonstrators whistled and jeered at Czech President Miloš Zeman throughout his speech marking the events of 25 years ago at Albertov in Prague, where student demonstrators began their march in 1989 to mark international students' day and to commemorate Jan Opletal and other students murdered by the Nazis 50 years earlier. Demonstrators on Monday, some holding placards protesting against Mr Zeman and his predecessor Václav Klaus, even threw items - prompting the president's security detail to open umbrellas. Mr Zeman, who was fully drowned out by the noise, said he was unafraid of them as he was unafraid 25 years ago. The crowd only grew quiet when German President Gauck, as well as presidents from the Visegrad 4, spoke shortly afterwards.
As president, Miloš Zeman has courted controversy on a number of occasions, most recently suggesting that the Velvet Revolution was triggered primarily by a false report of the death of a student, rather than by the brutality of the attack in Prague against students by the communist riot police. His comments were ridiculed by some, including a well-known historian, who also experienced the crackdown firsthand. Human Rights minister Jiří Dienstbier told Czech TV that the president's assessment was "a lie" as in the past Mr Zeman himself had written about the brutality of the crackdown on Národní Street.
Thousands also gathered to demonstrate against President Zeman in the city centre earlier in the day, holding up 'red cards' (as in football) calling for him to resign.