Mass anti-government protest hits Prague (VIDEOS)
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in central Prague on Saturday for a march dubbed ‘Czech Republic First,’ urging the government to resign over soaring energy prices and inflation, and to drop anti-Russia sanctions.
According to police estimates, some 70,000 took part in the rally, with the organizers putting the figure at 100,000. The event brought together people from across the political spectrum, with the Communist Party and right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy Party taking part.
“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.
PRAGUE - Wenceslas Square 70,000 citizens demand the Government resign for working against the people and lower gas and electricity.Winter is coming. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/PeWNsdtHrn— Bernie's Tweets (@BernieSpofforth) September 3, 2022
The protesters demanded that the Czech Republic take a neutral military stance, and secure direct contracts with natural gas suppliers including Russia. They also condemned the government for supporting EU sanctions against Moscow, adopted in multiple waves since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“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.
🇨🇿In Prague, 70 000 people came to a rally: they demand that the authorities take a neutral position on the conflict in UkraineThe participants call on the government to resign, and the authorities to provide the country with cheap gas. pic.twitter.com/2dslt6XnNb— AZ 🛰🌏🌍🌎 (@AZmilitary1) September 3, 2022
The protest came a day after the government survived a no-confidence vote over the same issues, with the opposition accusing it of inaction in the face of soaring energy prices and inflation.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who leads a center-right coalition, was quick to accuse the protesters of acting against the country’s interests, implying the Kremlin might have had a hand in the unrest.
“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 the CTK broadcaster. “It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns are present on our territory and some people simply listen to them.”