Thousands gathered in Prague to demand that authorities turn attention away from helping Ukraine and towards facing problems at home
Thousands protested in downtown Prague on Sunday, arguing that the Czech government is devoting too many resources to helping Ukraine fight Russia rather than tackling the energy crisis and high inflation at home. Many are calling on Prime Minister Petr Fiala to resign.
The ‘Czechia Against Poverty’ rally was spearheaded by the opposition party Law, Respect, Expertise (PRO 2022). Protesters gathered at Wenceslas Square, condemning what one called “the lying government” and carrying banners that said “No to war” and “Get out of NATO.”
Addressing the crowd, Jaroslav Foldyna, an MP from the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, said that “the government needs to go before it destroys the country.”
A protester named Renata Urbanova told AFP that the government is “full of warmongers” who “are making us suffer economically.”
A group of people with Ukrainian flags rallied in support of Kiev in the center of the capital at around the same time. Members of opposing camps shouted at each other, but were ultimately separated by police.
A similar anti-government demonstration was held last month. More than a dozen people were arrested and scuffles with police broke out at that event.
The monthly cost of living has increased for most Czechs and up to 70% of households were forced to resort to austerity measures, according to a survey released by pollster Median in January.
At the same time, Prague has supplied heavy weapons to Ukraine, including 89 tanks, and has backed economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU. More than 460,000 Ukrainian refugees arrived in the Czech Republic after February 2022, and around 300,000 of them are still in the country, according to Euronews.
Last year, the Czech parliament adopted a law aimed at providing assistance to refugees, which was recently extended until April 2024.
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