Czech PM blames Russian propaganda for mass protests in Prague

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala blames pro-Russian forces for mass protests over the weekend which saw tens of thousands of people protest against the government, the European Union and NATO amid soaring oil prices energy and inflation.

The “Czechia First” demonstration has brought together 70,000 people to protest against the government in a development the Czech Prime Minister blames on elements influenced by Russian propaganda.

“It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns repeatedly appear on our territory and someone simply succumbs to them,” Fiala said.

The demonstrators, united by the Communist Party, the Freedom Party, the Direct Democratic Party and other groups described as “radical” – both far left and far right – called on the government to confront to soaring energy prices and the highest cost of living since the early 1990s for everything from housing to consumer goods.

Protesters have called for a new gas supply deal with Russia, just a day after Moscow said natural gas flows via Nord Stream 1 to Europe that had been cut for maintenance would not be restored Saturday as scheduled and would be delayed indefinitely.

Inflation has reached 17% and is heading towards 20% in the coming months, according to Fortune, citing the Czech central bank.

The mass protests also came a day after a failed no-confidence vote against the five-party coalition government.

While the prime minister blamed Russian influence, other coalition government officials warned against sidelining the real economic problems facing the people.

Reports noted that some protesters wore T-shirts supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and some carried anti-EU and anti-NATO posters.

Social unrest has increased in Europe since Russia invaded Ukraine, with Western sanctions and soaring energy prices creating a toxic mix as well as an influx of Ukrainian refugees. Tensions are rising as a winter approaches which is expected to see a worsening of the energy crisis.

Berta D. Wells