Czech President Milos Zeman has been pelted with eggs by angry protesters on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which ended communist rule.
Thousands of people carried football-style red cards as a warning to Milos Zeman, while others threw eggs. One accidentally hit the German president.
Many are angry with Milos Zeman, who they see as too sympathetic to Russia.
The Velvet Revolution began on November 17, 1989, when police attacked a student protest.
A wave of demonstrations followed across the now Czech Republic, toppling the communist government and replacing it with one led by dissident playwright Vaclav Havel.
Some Czechs feel that certain aims of the revolution, such as the promotion of human rights, have been sidelined by Milos Zeman.
They also worry that the president, a former communist, is too close to both Russia and China.
On November 17, demonstrators carried banners reading “down with Zeman” and “we do not want to be a Russian colony”.
As the president unveiled a plaque to the students involved in the 1989 protest, he was booed, jeered and pelted with eggs.
Czech President Milos Zeman has been pelted with eggs by angry protesters on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
Though Milos Zeman appears not to have been hit, German President Joachim Gauck was struck during the attack.
Milos Zeman angered many Czech citizens when he defended Russia’s stance on Ukraine, declaring the conflict there “a civil war between two groups of Ukrainian citizens”.
Though Moscow has long denied any direct involvement in the Ukraine crisis, the EU, of which the Czech Republic is a member, has imposed sanctions on Russia, saying it has supplied separatist rebels there with weapons and Russian fighters.
The Czech president also used derogatory language when discussing Russian protest group Pussy Riot in an interview earlier this month.
In October Milos Zeman shocked some when he said he wished to learned how China “stabilized” its society.
In the run-up to Monday’s celebrations, Milos Zeman said the 1989 student protest had not triggered the Velvet Revolution.
Despite his participation in it, Milos Zeman said the historic protest had been just one of “any number of rallies” and he played down police brutality.
Milos Zeman still has the backing of many voters and his supporters were scheduled to hold a rally on November 17.
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A video footage shows the new Czech president, Milos Zeman, clearly worse for wear, propping himself up against a wall at a public event, struggling to negotiate a step and being aided by a cardinal.
Milos Zeman, 68, makes no secret of his drinking. But on this occasion – a rare and highly-ceremonial public display of the Czech crown jewels last week – his office insisted he simply had a virus and subsequently needed a day or two of rest.
Since then, the video has prompted a storm of social media gags. Czechs – by far the biggest beer drinkers in the world per capita – have been posting pictures of themselves in bars getting drunk with slogans like: “Here I am getting a virus”, or “Heading out for a virus”.
Milos Zeman, a chain smoker and lover of fatty foods, often extols the virtues of booze. On one occasion, the president praised Winston Churchill for his love of whisky and pointed out that Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler and vegetarian – “and you know how he ended up”.
During a 1996 election campaign Milos Zeman said his campaign bus “drove on gas and Becherovka”, a popular Czech liquor. Two years later he became prime minister.
Footage shows President Milos Zeman clearly the worse for wear at a rare public display of the Czech crown jewels
A tabloid in the Czech Republic once claimed Milos Zeman told the paper he would drink on average six glasses of wine – plus three shots – on any given day.
His unsuccessful rival in this year’s presidential election, the nobleman Karel Schwarzenberg, couldn’t help but take a swipe at his opponent’s taste for alcohol.
“Milos Zeman was in my opinion one of the most intelligent prime ministers this country has ever had,” Karel Schwarzenberg said during the campaign.
“And had he not drunk so much he’d have been a really good prime minister,” he added.
Milos Zeman insists he’s so used to drinking that it never has any ill effects, and he has openly challenged anyone to prove otherwise.
“If anyone has ever seen me drunk in my life, tell me when,” Milos Zeman said during the presidential election campaign.
Miroslava Nemcova, the speaker for Parliament’s lower house and one of seven holders of the keys to the Czech crown jewels, was the only person at last week’s event to comment on Milos Zeman’s appearance.
“I saw what you saw,” she was quoted as saying on the Lidove Noviny daily’s website Friday.
“Judge for yourself.”