Tens of thousands of protesters in Prague against the Czech government, the EU and NATO

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PRAGUE, September 3 (Reuters) – Around 70,000 people demonstrated in Prague against the Czech government on Saturday, calling on the ruling coalition to do more to control soaring energy prices and expressing their opposition to the European Union and to NATO.

Protest organizers from a number of far-right and fringe political groups, including the Communist Party, said the central European nation should be militarily neutral and secure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including including Russia.

Police estimates put the number of protesters at around 70,000 by mid-afternoon.

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“The purpose of our protest is to demand change, primarily by solving the problem of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this fall,” said the co-organizer of the event, Jiri Havel, at the information site iDNES.cz.

The protest in Wenceslas Square in the city center came a day after the government survived a vote of no confidence amid opposition claims of inaction against inflation and energy prices. Read more

The vote showed how Europe’s energy crisis is fueling political instability while soaring electricity prices are fueling inflation, already at levels not seen in three decades.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who leads the centre-right five-party coalition, told the CTK news service on Saturday that the protesters did not have the best interests of the country at heart.

“The demonstration in Wenceslas Square was triggered by pro-Russian forces, close to extreme positions and contrary to the interests of the Czech Republic,” he said.

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Reporting by Michael Kahn, editing by Ros Russell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Berta D. Wells