More than a hundred “yellow vest” demonstrators have been arrested in Paris with the French capital witnessing the resurgence of the grassroots protest movement amid the worsening cost of living crisis.
The protests on Saturday came in reaction to the deteriorating cost of living crisis and unpopular reforms of French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mobile riot police intervened swiftly to break up protests by several hundred people wearing gilets jaunes [yellow vests], some in masks, around the Place de la Republique and also near the Champs Elysees.
Most of those detained were fined for “gathering with the intention of committing violence or damaging property”.
The demonstrators were responding to calls on social media to “occupy the streets of Paris” and “revolt against the traitors who govern us”.
Similar protests were staged in other French cities across the country, such as Toulouse and Lyons.
The yellow vest protests, which kicked off in 2018, a year after Macron assumed power, at first advocated economic justice and later called for institutional political reforms.
After continuing for months on a weekly basis, the protests lost momentum largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic in France.
The reappearance of protesters on Saturday has raised the alarm as France, and Europe in general, face a power crunch amid cuts in Russian supplies in the wake of the Ukraine war.
Russia has blamed the United States for triggering the energy crisis in Europe by slapping unprecedented sanctions on the Kremlin and supporting Ukraine financially and militarily.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday that by pushing European leaders toward the "suicidal" step of imposing sanctions on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine, which is now in its seventh month, Washington set off the crisis across the European continent.
"It is absolute suicide but it seems they will have to go through this," she noted.
When Zakharova was asked by reporters what needs to be done to make Russia resume pumping its gas to Europe, she said "those who started this, need to finish this", pointing to NATO.
To manage the energy crisis that continues to worsen, French officials have started imposing strict austerity measures.
In the city of Lille in northern France, officials turned off lights on ten public buildings in a bid to cut power consumption by seven percent.
"We wished to quickly announce energy sobriety measures, and among the easiest to put in place was (to stop) lighting public buildings, because it was painless for Lille residents, although it was symbolic for us," deputy to the Lille mayor in charge of ecological transition Audrey Linkenheld was quoted as saying.
"The fact that we have reduced lighting allows us to save 170,000-kilowatt hours, or around 30,000 Euros," Linkenheld noted.
Another austerity measure taken by city officials was lowering temperatures in most public buildings.
In related news, Sweden's outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson warned that a difficult and dangerous winter was in store for the European nations.
“War winter” is coming, Andersson warned last week.
“This threatens our financial stability. If we don’t act soon it could lead to serious disruptions in the Nordics and Baltics,” she asserted.
“In the worst-case scenario, we could fall into a financial crisis,” she concluded.