Around 70,000 protesters marched in Prague on Saturday to demonstrate against the Czech government over rising energy prices and to demand an end to sanctions on Russia and arms shipments to Ukraine.
The protest included demonstrators from across the political spectrum, including the populist right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy Party and the Czech Republic’s Communist Party.
The parties that participated were described in media reports as “fringe,” but 70,000 demonstrators is a sizeable showing in Prague, a city with a population of approximately 1.3 million.
The protesters voiced opposition to the EU and NATO and called for the center-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala to resign. “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,” said Jiri Havel, an organizer of the demonstration, according to Reuters.
Fiala’s government survived a no-confidence vote on Friday that was held over the government’s handling of the energy crisis that has been brought on by EU sanctions against Russia.
Europe is bracing for a harsh winter, especially since Russia indefinitely shut down the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, which connects Russia and Germany. Officials in Berlin are expecting social unrest this winter in response to soaring heating costs.
A rally against sanctions on Russia was also held in Germany over the weekend, although it was much smaller than the one in Prague. A group of about 2,000 mostly Russian-speaking protesters marched in the western German city of Cologne on Sunday, calling for Berlin to drop its support for Ukraine.