Tens of thousands demonstrate in Prague against the Czech government, the European Union and NATO

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PRAGUE (Reuters) – An estimated 70,000 people protested in Prague on Saturday against the Czech government, calling on the ruling coalition to do more to control high energy prices, and voicing their opposition to the European Union and NATO.

Demonstrators from a number of far-right political groups, including the Communist Party, said the central European country should be militarily neutral and ensure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia.

Police estimates put the number of protesters at around 70,000 by mid-afternoon.

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“The aim of our demonstration is to demand change, particularly in resolving the issue of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this fall,” Jerry Havel, one of the event’s organizers, told the iDNES.cz news site.

The protest was held in Wenceslas Square in the city center, a day after the government voted to no-confidence amid opposition claims that no action was being taken against inflation and energy prices. Read more

The vote showed how Europe’s energy crisis is fueling political instability as rising energy prices fueled inflation, which has already reached levels not seen in three decades.

Prime Minister Peter Fiala, who leads the five-party centre-right coalition, told CTK News Service on Saturday that the protesters did not have the country’s best interests at heart.

“The protest in Wenceslas Square was called by pro-Russian forces, close to extremist positions and opposing the interests of the Czech Republic,” he said.

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(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Russell)

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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