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Tens of thousands take to streets in Prague in protest at Czech government's support for Ukraine

Thousands of demonstrators gather to protest against the government at the Wenceslas Square in Prague, Czech Republic, September 3, 2022. (Photo by AP)

Around 70,000 people have rallied in Prague to protest the Czech government's excessive attention to Ukraine instead of the country's own people, and to voice opposition to the European Union and the Western military alliance of NATO.

The rally took place in the city's iconic Wenceslas Square on Saturday, with the participants "accusing the government of paying more attention to Ukraine than its own citizens and demanding the resignation of the center-right government of Petr Fiala, which took office last December.

The protest was held under the title "Czech Republic in the first place." The protesters vented their anger over growing inflation caused, among other things, by rising energy prices and the country's taking in huge numbers of Ukrainian expatriates since February, when Russia began a military operation in Ukraine.

The organizers said the central European nation had to be neutral militarily, something which has been rendered impossible by its membership of NATO. They also asked the government to secure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia.

"The best for Ukrainians and two sweaters for us," read a banner, a reference to concerns over winter heating bills.

"The aim of our demonstration is to demand change, mainly in solving the issue of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this autumn," event co-organizer Jiri Havel told the news website.

"The rally in Wenceslas Square is quiet, we didn't have to deal with any serious problems. We estimate the number of participants at about 70,000 as of 1230 GMT," Czech police said on Twitter.

The monumental rally came a day after the government survived a no-confidence vote amid opposition claims of inaction against inflation and energy prices.

The demo did not sit well with the government, with Prime Minister Petr Fiala alleging that it had been mustered by "pro-Russian people, who are close to extremist positions and whose interests run counter to the interests of the Czech Republic."

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has received around 400,000 refugees from Ukraine since the war with Russia started on February 24, and provided substantial military and humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

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