In front of the Presidential Palace in Bratislava on Thursday, several hundred people demanded the abolition of anti-pandemic measures – which they say divide Slovaks into two categories – and declared a general strike. After 8 pm, riot police officers intervened against them, as they had paralyzed the traffic in the capital.
“Shame”, “Gestapo”, and “Yuck!” shouted the crowd at the intervening police. “I won’t get vaccinated because I don’t trust vaccines, and the state is punishing me with restrictions. The whole pandemic is one colossal fraud,“ Igor, who came from Trnava, said. Protesters called vaccination a “genocide of the nation” and government measures a “restriction of human rights“.
The protesters criticized the government party and President Zuzana Čaputová, but also the opposition, which, according to them, did not do enough to prevent the approval of anti-pandemic measures. At noon, protesters blocked traffic around the presidential palace, where large columns were immediately formed. The Old Town district warned that the protest had not been announced in advance. Some of the protesters attacked journalists, confronted drivers, and even blocked the ambulance.
The participants chanted slogans such as “Face masks down, heads up” and “Vaccine is murder”.
An example issue of the protest is the rejection of an amendment to the law that will benefit vaccinated citizens in the case of any worsening of the pandemic situation. Vaccinated people can then go to restaurants, theaters, or hairdressers without restriction. Unvaccinated will need a certificate of passing COVID-19 or a negative test.
Currently, there are 44 patients with confirmed COVID-19 in the hospitals; four of them are in the ICU and three need pulmonary ventilation. A total of 392,537 people have been tested positive in the country so far, and 12,536 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic in Slovakia.
Title image: Slovak policemen block off protesters during a demonstration near the Parliament building in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday, March 9, 2012. Hundreds of Slovaks protested in the capital to demand that top politicians accused of corruption step down. Slovakia is holding an early general election on Saturday, March 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)