"We don't want medical police!", "Take off your masks!", "Crown" is a fiction, we are not "covidiots"! "

Hundreds or even thousands of people walk the streets of Europe with such slogans - without masks and keeping distance, from the youngest to the oldest.

Various flags, colorful posters with slogans, sometimes funny costumes and musical instruments. And, of course, non-Greek cartoons of politicians and Bill Gates.

This is roughly what the actions of "corona skeptics" look like in many European countries.

In some places, they escalate into clashes with law enforcement officers - with pushing, firecrackers, tear gas and detentions.

In each country, protests have their own characteristics.

They have one thing in common: fatigue and irritation from endless quarantine, exacerbated by distrust of the authorities.

Half a year ago, faced with the first wave of the pandemic, Europe almost simultaneously went on unprecedented restrictions for its citizens.

And while the vast majority of EU citizens saw the virus as a serious threat and agreed to the restrictions, some questioned its danger from the outset. And some even consider the epidemic a fabrication, believing the numerous misinformation and "conspiracy theories" spreading on social networks.

The first few actions of "corona skeptics" began in the spring. In the summer, as the epidemic seemed to recede and quarantine fatigue increased, they gained new supporters.

The current protests, sparked by governments' decisions to return to tougher restrictions, have become apparent in a number of countries.

So where and how do "coronavirus" protests take place and who goes to them?

"Covidiots" in law

The headlines were the "coronavirus" protests in Germany, the main ideologue of which was the Querdenken 711 movement and its leader Michael Ballweg.

And if the first actions attracted attention mostly inside the country, the most massive, on August 29, could not fail to notice the whole world - thousands of people in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the storming of the Reichstag, fights with police, hundreds of detainees ...

More than 30,000 people gathered on the streets that day - a motley company of "corona skeptics", "quarantined tired", anti-vaccines, and - unexpectedly - representatives of the "Reichsburgers" movement, who deny the legitimacy of the modern German state and came to protest with imperial flags.

It was they who tried to storm the parliament and arranged clashes with the police.

The reaction of the authorities was as decisive as possible.

The most active participants in the clashes - about 300 people - were detained, and the storming of the parliament was strongly condemned by all top officials.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called what happened in front of parliament "an unbearable attack on the heart of our democracy."

"The fact that certain sowers of chaos and extremists are abusing democracy for their own ends is unacceptable. Diversity of opinion is a sign of a healthy society. However, freedom of assembly has its limits - state rules cannot be trampled on," said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

"The flags of the German Reich in front of our parliament are a disgrace," said Foreign Minister Gaiko Maas.

Although the leader of the "corona skeptics" dissociated himself from the radicals who stormed the Reichstag, this incident could not but be a reputational blow to the protest.

There were no more mass demonstrations in Berlin, but smaller actions continue in a number of cities. Sometimes the organizers managed to gather thousands of people - as in Constanta in early October.

As for public opinion, according to a poll commissioned by Spiegel, three-quarters of Germans do not understand the protests of the "corona skeptics", and about 21% - more or less understand them.

By the way, on the day of the largest action of the "corona skeptics" there was a protest against their protest - with slogans in support of the government's quarantine policy and criticism of right-wing radicals.

Curiously, the German prosecutor's office ruled that people protesting against the current quarantine restrictions and refusing to wear masks could be called "covidiots" - rejecting complaints against the co-chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which called the protesters.

"Everyone hates the curfew"

Not far behind Germany and other countries.

Their "corona skeptics" were found in Italy and Spain, which suffered the most from the epidemic in the spring.

On August 16, in Madrid's Colon Square, some 3,000 people gathered to protest against the mask regime and the tightening of restrictions.

One of the leaders of the protest is Fernando Viscaino, a yoga coach from Valencia. He is convinced that the coronavirus epidemic was invented by the ruling elites in conspiracy with the media to "intimidate people, imprison us and deprive us of our rights and freedoms," and that coronavirus deaths are actually caused by the side effects of the flu vaccine.

"We are not criminals, we want to breathe," "There is no virus," "These are fake tests and fake 'positives,'" What really kills is 5G, "media protesters were quoted as saying.

"We are not criminals, we want to breathe," "There is no virus," "These are fake tests and fake 'positives,'" What really kills is 5G, "media protesters were quoted as saying.

Police did not disperse, limiting calls to wear masks and keep their distance, but an investigation was launched after the rally, which took place in violation of security measures.

The protest caused outrage on the social networks of doctors and nurses, who have been rescuing patients with coronavirus all this time.

"The last six months have been the hardest in my life. We had to hold back tears and fear, we were experiencing real horror. We treated, helped and comforted. It hurts to see such an attitude and such selfishness," wrote one of the doctors.

About 1,500 people with similar slogans gathered in Rome on September 5 to express their dissatisfaction - against masks and distance, against forced vaccination against coronavirus in the future, against the "dictatorship of health care" ...

"These people believe that the virus does not exist, but we can show them the statistics in response," said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Foreign Minister Luigi di Mayo called on coronary skeptics to "at least show respect for the dead and their families."

On September 26, thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in London to protest against point lockdowns, mass vaccinations, the mask regime and other restrictions.

The protest was initiated by a group of coronary skeptics Save Our Rights UK - on the occasion of the first half of the act, which gave the government the right to impose emergency quarantine measures. People came with posters "Freedom!", "Think until it is forbidden", "We do not agree" and so on.

Shortly after the rally began, London police said the rally posed serious risks to the spread of the virus. Attempts to stop the action turned into clashes, as a result of which 16 people were detained for various offenses.

In his Twitter account, London Mayor Sadiq Khan first asked the protesters to disperse and not endanger the health of people in the city, and after the dispersal condemned them for irresponsibility and resistance to the police.

"We cannot nullify the price that London residents have already paid with such irresponsible minority behavior," he said.

On October 18, several thousand corona skeptics took to the streets again, shouting anti-vaccination slogans, "Take off your masks" and "We are 99%." There were also posters linking the appearance of coronavirus to 5G communication technology.

Unexpectedly, one of the leaders of the protests was Pierce Corbyn, the brother of the former leader of the Labor Party. A fine of £ 10,000 - the maximum penalty - for participating in previous rallies did not stop him.

A series of anti-quarantine protests took place in France. In Marseilles, for example, several hundred people gathered in front of a local court in late September to protest the decision to close restaurants and bars.

The protests were spurred by President Emmanuel Macron's decision to impose a curfew from 9 pm to 6 am in a number of cities where the situation is worst.

In response, on October 17, dozens of people staged a demonstration and even barricades in the streets of Paris.

The action was initiated by a group of corona skeptics "Remove the masks" ("Bas les masques"). People shouted "Everyone hates the curfew", "Freedom!" etc. There were no fights that evening.

Water cannons against COVID

Closest to Ukraine, mass protests against the new restrictions took place in the capitals of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They turned out to be the hottest - the police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse them.

On October 18, about 2,000 people, including about 400 radical football fans, gathered in Prague's Old Town Square to express their dissatisfaction with the "confusing" coronavirus restrictions, while more than 500 people had already been banned.

People mostly ignored the requirements for masks and distance, so the Prague City Hall decided to stop it half an hour after the start of the action.

When the participants did not want to disperse, the police used water cannons and tear gas. In response, some protesters tried to break through the police border and threw firecrackers. As a result, about 140 people were detained.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš expressed outrage at this behavior at a time when the record of daily infections in the country exceeded 11 thousand cases (the population of the Czech Republic - about 10.7 million).

In Bratislava, on the same day as in Prague, about 500 people gathered under the government building. Football fans and "Kotlebovites" - supporters of right-wing radical views, whose leader was recently convicted for a check for 1488 euros, came to protest against the quarantine restrictions.

The crowd heard vulgar insults against Prime Minister Igor Matovich. Several protesters managed to throw fireworks into the government building, some began throwing stones and bottles at police. Police used tear gas and later a water cannon.

The Slovak Foreign Minister later praised the police for their actions, saying that none of the demonstrators had responded to calls to disperse due to the declared state of emergency and the ban on gatherings - currently the limit is 6 people.

* * * * *

Can similar protests start in Ukraine?

According to a September poll by the Rating Group, 18% of Ukrainians at the time thought the government's restrictive measures were too harsh (45% "optimal" and 23% "too lenient").

At the same time, 61%, assessing the risks of the epidemic, said that they were more afraid of its economic consequences than the disease.

Thus, it is likely that in the event of a new hard "lockdown", far more citizens will be ready to protest than those who went to the rallies when their cities were included in the "red zone".

But what can be the slogans of these protests - first of all economic, will there be a place for "corona skeptics"?

A poll conducted by Research & Branding Group in early October found that 68% of Ukrainians acknowledged the reality of the danger of coronavirus.

That's the majority. But the number of those who consider the threat of the virus exaggerated is also significant: 5% believe that the danger is "very exaggerated", another 11% - "rather exaggerated".

Together, this is 16% of "corona skeptics". The same number, 16%, have not yet decided on their opinion.

No less significant is another figure: 34% believe that official statistics exaggerate the number of patients.

Therefore, the grounds for protests in the event of increased quarantine are - with both economic and "coronaskeptic" motives.

President Volodymyr Zelensky states that despite a new record of infections - for the first time more than 7,000 patients - there are no plans to introduce strict quarantine in Ukraine.

But it is possible that after the local elections on October 25, these plans will change quickly. And the growing statistics of infections and deaths from COVID0 will definitely go nowhere.

Therefore, a significant increase in quarantine seems to be a matter of the coming weeks. And behind him the first "coronavirus" protests are potentially possible.

Author: Maria Yemets,

журналістка "Європейської правди"

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