News ID: 106530
Publish Date : 04 September 2022 - 21:23

PRAGUE (Reuters) – An estimated 70,000 people protested in Prague against the Czech government, calling on the ruling coalition to do more to control soaring energy prices and voicing opposition to the European Union and NATO.
The demonstration, under the slogan of “The Czech Republic First,” was a joint rally of organizations and parties that disagree with the current government policy and demand a change, according to the Czech News Agency (CTK) report.
They said the central European nation should be neutral militarily and ensure direct contracts with gas suppliers.
Police estimates put the number of protesters at around 70,000 by mid-afternoon.
Police said on Twitter that the gathering went on “peacefully.”
“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,” event co-organizer Jiri Havel said.
The protest at Wenceslas Square in the city center was held a day after the government survived a no-confidence vote amid opposition claims of inaction against inflation and energy prices.
The vote showed how Europe’s energy crisis is fueling political instability as soaring power prices stoke inflation, already at levels unseen in three decades.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who leads the center-right, five-party coalition, told CTK news service on Saturday that the protesters did not have the country’s best interests at heart.
The protesters said the central European nation had to be neutral militarily, something which has been rendered impossible by its membership of NATO. They also asked the government to secure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia.
“The best for Ukrainians and two sweaters for us,” read a banner, a reference to concerns over winter heating bills.
The Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has received around 400,000 refugees from Ukraine since the war with Russia started on February 24, and provided substantial military and humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

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