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70,000 Czechs take to the streets against government, EU and NATO

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Thousands of demonstrators gather to protest against the government at the Vencesla's Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.
Thousands of demonstrators gather to protest against the government at the Vencesla's Square in Prague, Czech Republic, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.   -   Copyright  Petr David Josek/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -  

Tens of thousands of protestors from across the political spectrum demonstrated against the Czech government, EU and NATO on Saturday. 

An estimated 70,000 people took to the streets of Prague, calling on the ruling coalition to bring energy prices under control while voicing their opposition to the European Union (EU) and NATO.

Protest organisers from several far-right and fringe political groups said the central European nation should be neutral militarily and maintain gas imports from Russia. 

An estimated 70,000 people took to the streets, according to police. 

Some of the groups at the protest were the anti-migrant populist Freedom and Direct Democracy party, alongside the Czech Communist Party.

"The aim of our demonstration is to demand change, mainly in solving the issue of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this autumn," event co-organizer Jiri Havel told local media. 

The protesters demanded the resignation of conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala, criticising his coalition government on a number of issues, while slamming its Western-oriented policies.

Demonstrators gathered at Wenceslas Square in the city centre, one day after the government survived a no-confidence vote amid opposition claims of inaction against inflation and energy prices.

Events in the Czech Republic show how Europe's energy crisis is fuelling political instability as soaring power prices stoke unprecedented inflation.

Many Europeans worry that high inflation due to the current energy crisis could fuel social unrest, protests, and strikes, according to a new European survey. 

Protestors in Czech condemned the government for joining the EU sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, saying they were causing gas and electricity prices to rocket. 

Fiala, who heads the ruling centre-right, five-party coalition, told CTK news service on Saturday that the protesters were acting against the country's interests. 

"The protest on Wenceslas Square was called by forces that are pro-Russian, are close to extreme positions and are against the interests of the Czech Republic," he said, though he added everyone has a right to demonstrate. 

The Czech Republic vocally supports the Ukrainian cause against Russian forces, donating financial and military aid, alongside hosting a large population of Ukrainian refugees. 

Fiala's government wants to call an emergency meeting of EU countries next week to seek a united approach to the energy crisis. 

The Czech Republic currently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency.