Thousands protest against EU state’s pro-Western government
Thousands of supporters of the Czech non-parliamentary PRO (Law, Respect, Expertise) party gathered in the center of Prague on Saturday to demand the resignation of the country’s government over its pro-Western policies.
It is estimated that some 10,000 people attended the rally, which was held at Prague’s Wenceslas Square, according to local reports cited by Reuters. The PRO party, however, claims that over 100,000 people participated in the anti-government demonstrations, which were the third of their kind organized by the populist group this year.
The head of the party, Jindrich Rajchl, claimed during the event that the Czech Republic’s current five-party ruling coalition, headed by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, was “following orders from Brussels” and criticized the government’s continued military support for Ukraine, as well as its close ties with the United States.
“They are agents of foreign powers, people who fulfill orders, ordinary puppets. And I do not want a puppet government any more,” Rajchl told the crowd, adding that the Czech Republic should also veto any attempts by Ukraine to join NATO. Some of the demonstrators flat out demanded Prague exit the US-led military bloc.
Protesters also took issue with the way the current government has been handling inflation – which has hit double digits – tax changes, pension adjustments, measures to reduce fossil fuel usage in the automotive industry, and Covid-19 restrictions that were adopted under PM Fiala.
Rajchl insisted that the Czech government should represent the interests of its citizens and voiced concerns about the country’s social and health system’s capacity, particularly in light of a recent influx of economic migrants from Ukraine.
The last time the PRO party organized such demonstrations back in April, protesters also criticized the Czech government for devoting too many resources to helping Ukraine fight Russia rather than tackling issues at home. Back then, the demonstrators also demanded the resignation of the country’s leadership, which some accused of being “full of warmongers” who are making the Czech people suffer economically.
Prague has been one of Kiev’s closest allies in the ongoing conflict with Moscow. Since hostilities broke out in February 2022, the Czech Republic has supplied Ukraine with tanks, rocket launchers, helicopters, artillery shells and other military aid. The country has also taken in some 460,000 Ukrainian refugees since the crisis broke out, with 300,000 of them still living there, according to a Euronews report earlier this year.