Thousands rally in Prague against pro-Western government – ​​DW – 10/29/2022

Thousands of people took to the streets of the Czech capital on Friday to protest high prices, which they blame on the center-right government’s emphasis on supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

Organizers of the “Czech Republic First” protest – a nod to former US President Donald Trump’s nationalist slogan – are a mix of various fringe groups, mostly far-right, with pro- Kremlin and anti-vaccines.

The protest took place in Prague’s Wenceslas Square and coincided with the October 28 national holiday marking the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Enemies everywhere except Moscow

Protesters called on Prime Minister Piatr Fiala and his coalition government to resign.

Those present denounced Ukraine, the EU, NATO, the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO), but came out in favor of Russia’s war of aggression.

“Russia is not our enemy, the warmonger government is the enemy,” said one speaker.

Anti-government protesters in Prague
Some protesters want the Czech government to bypass EU sanctions and start buying Russian gas directly againImage: Bundas Engler/REUTERS

“The government we have is the worst in the history of the Czech Republic and I’m not the only one to think so,” protester Eva Frantova told AFP news agency.

Another, smaller rally was also held in the country’s second largest city, Brno, but police said the total number of participants was lower than the 70,000 counted at a similar protest in early September.

Czech support for Ukraine

Prague, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters in Europe.

It sent heavy weapons and granted visas to some 450,000 Ukrainian refugees, giving them access to social services such as health care and financial aid.

Fiala and several of his ministers plan to visit Kyiv on Monday.

But the country, like many others, is battling runaway inflation, which hit 18% in September from a year earlier.

“We know who our friend is and who is bleeding for our freedom,” Interior Minister Vit Rakusan tweeted in response to the protest. “And we also know who our enemy is.”

ab/wd (AFP, AP)

Berta D. Wells