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Vienna city centre area closed off for right-wing ball

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Police clash with demonstrators at last year's ball. File photo: APA/Schlager
12:09 CET+01:00
A large part of Vienna’s first district will be off-bounds to the general public on Friday, with clashes expected between left and right-wing groups on the night of the controversial Akademikerball (Academics Ball).

The area between Stadtpark and Heldenplatz will be closed off from 4pm on Friday 29th and between 2,500 and 2,800 police officers will be on duty.

The yearly event is organised by the populist Freedom Party (FPÖ) and is a known gathering place for Austrian and German nationalist student fraternity members, some of whom are described as right-wing extremists.

This year the exclusion zone will start at Johannesgasse by the Stadtpark and will extend to Hegelgasse and towards Kärntner Strasse in the city centre - including the crossing at Schwarzenbergplatz and Schwarzenbergstrasse. “Last year showed us that this area was quite hazardous for people who were heading towards the ball,” police spokesman Johann Golob said.

The group Offensive gegen Rechts (OGR) is organising a march which will begin at the University at 4.30pm and go through the city centre, finishing up at Museumsquartier. Organisers have said they expect between 6,000 and 10,000 people to take part.

"Right-wing extremism is still not properly handled in Austria, and until it is we will not cease to demonstrate against this ball," Magdalena Augustin from the OGR said. 

The Socialist Left Party will hold a demonstration from 3.30pm which will start at Wallensteinplatz and make its way via Porzellangasse and Währinger Strase to Schottentor.

The "Jetzt Zeichen setzen!" group (“Set an example!”) will be holding a protest event with talks and music concerts on Heldenplatz from 7pm.

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Last January thousands of people took part in marches in protest against the ball and several people were arrested after outbreaks of violence, including a 23-year-old German student who was accused of attacking and injuring police officers.

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