Conflicts & War

Anti-government protest draws tens of thousands to Czech capital

Prague, Oct 28 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of people gathered in this capital Friday to demand that the current Czech government give way to an administration which would adopt a neutral foreign policy, end military support to Ukraine and resume purchases of Russian natural gas.

“Resignation, resignation,” chanted the protesters, many of them waving Czech flags and carrying posters calling for their country to withdraw from NATO and the European Union.

The independence day protest marked the third time since the start of last month that large numbers have taken to the streets in Prague to call for the resignation of center-right Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

Police sources said that Friday’s turnout was smaller than the 70,000 who took part in the first demonstration on Sept. 3, but the protesters filled Wenceslas Square on the 104th anniversary of the secession of Czechoslovakia from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Though the event was organized by Czech Republic First, a right-wing group, people from across the political spectrum took part.

Czech Republic First opposes military support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion and wants Prague to adopt a policy of neutrality.

Protesters, including former Social Democratic Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, also denounced the surge in energy prices amid EU restrictions on imports of natural gas from Russia.

Warning of “a great crisis,” Paroubek said that people have reason to fear a shortage of natural gas in this nation of 10.5 million people.

Fiala’s five-party coalition government strongly backs Ukraine and has gone along with draconian EU sanctions against Russia, which has been the major supplier of natural gas to the Czech Republic.

The economy minister, Zbynek Stanjura, said recently that Czechs will not go without fuel in the coming winner, as the country’s gas storage tanks are 95 percent full. EFE vie-wr/dr

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