Thousands turn out for anti-government protest in Prague

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Demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest rally in Prague, Czech Republic, April 16, 2023.

Demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest rally in Prague, Czech Republic, April 16, 2023.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

Thousands of people rallied again in the Czech capital on Sunday to protest high inflation and demand the government’s resignation.

It was the second such rally at Prague’s Wenceslas Square after one on March 11 that was organised by a new political party known as PRO under an “against the poverty” banner.

The demonstrators, speakers at the protest and the head of the populist group, Jindrich Rajchl, blamed the European Union and the Czech government for soaring inflation and all repeatedly called on the current five-party coalition to resign.

“We want the government’s resignation,” Rajchl told the crowd. Rajchl, a lawyer by profession, is the former deputy head of the Czech soccer association.

“Resign, resign,” the protesters chanted.

“We’re here to stand by our country,” Rajchl said.

His group, whose name in English stands for Law, Respect, Expertise has no seats in parliament.

Rajchl claimed his group was ready to further escalate the protests.

Inflation has been high but on the decline in recent months, dropping to 15 per cent in March, down from 16.7 per cent in February and 17.5 per cent the month before.

The protesters also want the Czech government to stop taking actions that are intended to reduce misinformation and fake news.

Although Raichl rejected his group is pro-Russia, the protesters condemned the government’s stance in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The Czech Republic has staunchly supported the government in Kyiv since Russian troops invaded Ukraine. The country has provided weapons for the Ukrainian military and taken in about 500,000 refugees.

Rajchl called Defence Minister Jana Cernochova, a vocal supporter of the pro-Ukraine stance, “the biggest security risk for our country”.

Some people at the rally were signing a petition demanding the country quits NATO.

Protesters were planning to march to the government office later on Sunday. Prime Minister Petr Fiala is currently on a trip to Asia.

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