Supporters and opposers of Dragoon Ride convoy clash in Prague

The American convoy through the Eastern Europe sparks controversial opinions among the population of the Czech Republic. On Saturday, both supporters and opposers of the convoy gave a loud voice to their respective points of view in Prague, the Czech Republic's capital.

Operation Dragoon Ride Day 4 | Photo courtesy of US Army

Operation Dragoon Ride Day 4 | Photo courtesy of US Army

Both groups of supporters and disputers of the three US convoys (whose ride across the Eastern Europe is officially dubbed as “Operation Dragoon Ride“) ostentatiously expressed their respective opinions today on two separate gatherings in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague.

The three convoys in question will enter the Czech Republic on 29 March 2015, to meet in Prague a day later, whence they will move as a merged formation towards Rozvadov border crossing on their way to their final destination in Vilseck, Germany. The convoy of ca. 520 military personnel manning 120 vehicles is designed as a preemptive measure of deterrence against the expansive politics of the Russian Federation.

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Opposers of Dragoon Ride in front of US Embassy in Prague | Photo courtesy of Tomáš Kaplan

The first one of the two gatherings took place in Václav Square (Václavské náměstí) in Prague at 2:30 PM, where several dozens of the American convoy opposers met to protest against what some of them claimed to be an “American occupation”. The event was organized under the thumb of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) and several other anti-militant and anti-American initiatives.

The attendees voiced their stark disagreement with the convoy, its passage through the Czech Republic and pointed out subsequent effects thereof, which will allegedly put a bad name on the Czech Republic and label it as a supporter of violence and a condoner of alleged warmongering tendencies of the USA. Vojtěch Filip, the leader of the KSČM, gave a speech in which he addressed the fact that “the Dragoon Ride is an unnecessary act of demonstration of military might and deliberate provocation against the Russian Federation, thus carelessly threatening the ongoing peace“.

The group was met with dissent from the second demonstrative formation, the attendees of which came to express their support and approval of both the convoy and NATO as an organization (and membership of the Czech Republic therein). Several verbal clashes broke out between the two opposing groups, but no intervention from the onlooking police officers was needed.

| Photo cortesy of Tomáš Kaplan

Supporters of Dragoon Ride in front of US Embassy in Prague | Photo courtesy of Tomáš Kaplan

The second gathering commenced an hour and half later from the start of the first, at 4:00 PM, on Peace Square (Náměstí míru) in Prague, where the convoy and NATO supporters demonstrated their approval of the convoy. The gathering was dubbed as “Hi, friends!”, so as to reflect the nature of the event which was to “welcome our allies in our homeland“.

Among attendees were also members of the political party TOP 09, namely Karel Schwarzenberg and Miroslav Kalousek, the former of whom also addressed the congregation with words of support and explained the need for measures such as the “Operation Dragoon Ride” to protect the liberty of people in NATO member countries.

Tomáš Kaplan, one of the attendees who also is a reader of The Czech Journal, captured the pro-American mood of this second gathering on a video: