Fed up with soaring food, energy and housing costs, tens of thousands of Czech protestors railed against their government on Friday, demanding the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s government, withdrawal from NATO and the negotiation of gas purchases from Russia.
“This is a new national revival and its goal is for the Czech Republic to be independent,” said organizer Ladislav Vrabel. “When I see a full square, no one can stop this.”
The protests occurred both in the capital city of Prague as well as the second-largest Czech city of Brno. Organized under the slogan of “Czech Republic First,” the demonstrations drew their strength from both the left and right wings of Czech politics.
“Russia’s not our enemy, the government of warmongers is the enemy,” one speaker said, according to the Associated Press. Czechia has donated tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine, and provided nearly a half million visas to Ukrainian refugees, along with benefits. Protest organizers are also demanding that the refugees not be granted permanent residency.
The protest was the third in a series organized by a group demanding Czechia’s withdrawal from NATO and better relations with Russia. As observed in the United States, the Czech government has attempted to marginalize the by calling them “pro-Kremlin propagandist narratives.”
The Czech government has tried to battle the rising prices with aid to businesses and household electricity price caps.
Friday’s protests were part of a rising wave of discontent throughout Europe. On Thursday, thousands protested in France, demanding higher wages to offset the rising cost of living — among them, striking teachers, healthcare providers and railway workers. Recent weeks have seen similar protests in Germany, Austria and Belgium too.
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