An anti-government demonstration was held in Prague on Saturday, with about 70,000 people participating, according to police.
Those gathered accused the authorities of inaction over rising gas and electricity prices, called for the withdrawal of the Czech Republic from the European Union and NATO, and criticized the government for supporting Ukraine in a war unleashed by Russia to the detriment of the country’s economy.
As BBC correspondent Rob Cameron reports from Prague, the rally was attended by far-right nationalists wearing Putin T-shirts, communists, and covid skeptics, but also by well-known academics.
“What united these disparate protesters – many of whom had come to Prague from other places – was one thing: They all believe it’s time to put the interests of the Czech Republic first,” the BBC correspondent notes.
The organizers of the rally said that the Czech Republic should be militarily neutral and that it is in its interests to conclude direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia.
The Czech Republic has received about 400,000 refugees from Ukraine and has provided it with a significant amount of military and humanitarian aid.
The demonstration in the Czech Republic took place a day after Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s government survived a vote of no confidence in parliament. The opposition had initiated the vote because of rising inflation and energy prices.
Fiala leads a center-right coalition of five parties. Commenting on the demonstration of thousands in Prague on Saturday, he said it was organized by “pro-Russian forces and groups with views close to extremist, which oppose the interests of the Czech Republic.”
“It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns are operating on our territory, and some people are listening to them,” the Czech prime minister added.