Tens of thousands protest against Czech government

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PRAGUE (AP) — Tens of thousands of protesters from the far right and far left joined forces to rally against the country’s pro-Western Czech government in the capital on Saturday.

Police estimated that the crowd at Prague's central Wenceslas Square numbered around 70,000.

Some of the groups represented at the demonstration included the major anti-migrant populist Freedom and Direct Democracy party and the Communist Party.

The protesters demanded the resignation of the current coalition government led by conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala, criticizing it for a number of issues, including its Western-oriented policies.

They condemned the government for its support of the sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine and accused it of not being able to tackle soaring energy prices. The demonstrators also criticized NATO, and the European Union and the 27-nation bloc's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reach climate neutrality. The country belong to both organizations.

Fiala said everyone has a right to demonstrate, but said those protesting are expressing pro-Russia views “that are not in the interest of the Czech Republic and our citizens.”

The Czech Republic firmly supports Ukraine in its battle against Russia's invasion and has donated arms, including heavy weapons, to the Ukrainian armed forces.

The government is planning to call an emergency meeting of EU countries next week to seek a united approach to the energy crisis. The Czech Republic currently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency.

The Associated Press