Mass anti-government protest takes place in Prague

Tens of thousands of people flood Wenceslas Square and call for the immediate resignation of the government.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 28.10.2022 16:23:00 (updated on 28.10.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Part of Prague’s Wenceslas Square is currently covered by “tens of thousands” of anti-government protestors, as reported by ČTK.

Organized by the “Czech Republic First” movement, a right-wing group with nationalist sentiments, attendees are demonstrating against the government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, claiming that it is acting against the best interests of the country.

The central themes of the protest are anger against skyrocketing inflation and a call to establish energy deals with Russia in order to obtain electricity at a lower price. Grievances with the country’s stance in the Russia-Ukraine war – with people claiming Czechia is getting too involved – are also being voiced. Protestors accuse the government of mismanagement of the country’s economy. 

Some protestors are also campaigning for an exit from the EU, NATO, United Nations, and the World Trade Organization, criticizing aspects of globalization. 

"This is a new national revival and its goal is for the Czech Republic to be independent. When I see a full square, no one will stop this," the protest's organizer, Ladislav Vrabel, said in iDnes.cz.

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Banners reading messages such as "We don't want a government of national destruction!" or "Stop price gouging!" can be seen, as cited by ČTK. The Czech Republic First organization is calling for the immediate dismissal or resignation of the government.

The organization leading today's protest also wants to "end the favoritism of foreign companies and increase support for Czech industry and agriculture," as stated on its website. It also wants to change the current issuance of temporary protection given to Ukrainian refugees.

This is not the first time the movement has held such protests. One occurred on Sept. 3, which involved some 70,000 people congregating in Prague’s center. A similar protest followed on Sept. 28. Organizers are naming today's protest the "Non-Violent Revolution."

Former Prime Minister Jiří Paroubek was in attendance, stating that he is “afraid that we are only at the beginning of a major crisis. We can all legitimately fear that there will be no gas. I am afraid that thanks to the gambling energy policy of the government and Brussels, hundreds of Czech companies will go bankrupt.” 

A petition with 30,000 signatures was presented to President Miloš Zeman in mid-October, asking for the dissolution of the present government. Zeman, despite periodic conflict with the current administration, however, refused. He stated that it would be unconstitutional and despotic in nature.

A protest of a similar nature is occurring simultaneously in Brno, with about 2,000 people attending. The chairman of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party, Tomio Okamura, was a speaker. He criticized the government's approach during the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

"The government is putting millions of people and businesses in huge trouble."

Tomio Okamura, leader of the SPD.

Some counter-protestors have joined the demonstrations with Ukrainian flags in both cities, with police needing to separate both groups in order to avoid any escalation in conflict.

A similar large protest is planned on Nov. 17, another public holiday in Czechia.

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