Tens of thousands hit central Prague on Saturday, taking part in a protest dubbed ‘Czech Republic First.’ The protesters urged the government to resign over soaring energy prices, inflation and the international policies they believe have brought the country to that state.
According to police estimates, some 70,000 took part in the rally, with the organizers putting the mark even higher at 100,000. The event brought together people of polar political views, with the Communist party and right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy Party alike taking part in the protest.
“The aim of our demonstration is to demand change, mainly in solving the issue of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this autumn,” one of the event’s co-organizers, social democrat Jiri Havel, told local media.
The protesters demanded the Czech Republic to take a neutral military stance, as well as to secure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia. They have also condemned the government for supporting the EU’s sanctions against Moscow, adopted in multiple waves in wake of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“The best for the Ukrainians and two sweaters for us,” one of the banners displayed at the event read, referring to the rising heating costs and potential energy cuts in winter.
The protest came a day after the government survived a no-confidence vote over the same issues, with the opposition blaming it for inaction in wake of the soaring energy prices and inflation.
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Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, leading the ruling five-party, center-right coalition, was quick to accuse the protesters of acting against the country’s best interests, implying the Kremlin might have had a hand in staging the protest.
“The protest on Wenceslas Square was called by forces that are pro-Russian, are close to extreme positions and are against the interests of the Czech Republic,” he told CTK broadcaster. “It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns are present on our territory and some people simply listen to them.”
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