Tens of thousands of flag-waving Czechs gathered on the streets of Prague earlier this week to protest against Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s liberal-conservative government, demanding, among other things, its resignation and calling for the sanctions against Russia, which continue to wreak havoc on the national economy, to be scrapped entirely.
Between 70,000 and 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Prague’s iconic Wenceslas Square under the slogan “Czech Republic First” on Wednesday afternoon to express their profound dissatisfaction with the ruling coalition’s orientation toward the Russo-Ukraine war, calling for new elections, condemning the runaway energy prices, and demanding Czechia’s withdrawal from various transnational organizations, iDNES reports.
Czech demonstrators from across the political spectrum called for the country’s immediate withdrawal from NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization. They also demanded food self-sufficiency and the “liberation” of the country’s domestic industry from “dependence” on international corporations.
Protestors—many of whom chanted “resignation,” “shame,” and “thieves”—were eager to voice their opposition to the Russo-Ukraine war. At the same time, however, they stressed that their anti-war stance did not mean they are pro-Kremlin.
Iva Rosická, a demonstrator to brought a dove as a symbol of peace to Prague’s main square, told the Czech newspaper Hospodářské Noviny: “We are not Russophiles, we love the Czech land, we want love and peace.”
Miroslav Ševčik, the dean of the University of Economics of Prague, the former head of the Agrarian Chamber Zdenek Jandejsek, Jaroslav Foldyna, a lawmaker for the Czech Rightist party Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Danish politician Mads Palsving, German MEP Christine Anderson, and German MP Petr Bystron were among those who delivered speeches.
On Wednesday morning, before the demonstration, Christine Anderson, an MEP for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, took to social media to express why she had made the trip to Prague, writing: “Our incompetent politicians and governments are connected to the global elites and their henchmen worldwide. Time for the civil resistance.”
During her speech which was punctuated with chants of “svoboda” (Czech for freedom), Anderson said:
You lived and suffered under totalitarian rule for decades. But your people stood up and despite jeopardizing your livelihood, despite risking prison, you did it anyway. You fought for freedom, you fought for democracy, and you fought for the rule of law. And yet here we are, a mere thirty years later, the people from Europe once again face being disenfranchised, face being subject to foreign rule. We see widespread use of Orwellian language, and speaking your mind makes you a state enemy once again
Now, you the Czech people and all other Eastern European people, you have been there, you have done that, and you remember. You recognize oppression when you see it, and you are determined to make sure that your children never have to experience that again. But Western European peoples need your help now because we don’t seem to understand that freedom and democracy need to be fought for and need to be defended. Western Europeans have no clue what they stand to lose.
So, all hope of restoring freedom and democracy in Europe now rests with you. We the people in Western Europe, depend on you, the Czech people, and the other people in Eastern Europe, to lead the way.
AfD MP Petr Bystron, for his part, emphasized that the Czechs “want the resignation of their globalist government,” and added that they were fighting for “family, God, homeland, and freedom.”
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fialia has claimed that pro-Russian forces help to instigate the mass protests, saying: “It is clear that Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns repeatedly appear on our territory and that someone is simply succumbing to them.”