By Nathan Bauchant, local correspondent, Eurasia Business News – September 3, 2022
A major rally was held today on Wenceslas Square in Prague. According to police, 75,000 people took part in the rally. The organizers talk about more than 100 thousand people.
Organizers of the rally demanded the resignation of the Czech government and Prime Minister Petr Fialu before September 25. The Cabinet of Ministers of the Czech Republic was accused of the energy crisis and increasing inflation.
The protesters demanded lower electricity prices and the signing of contracts for the purchase of cheap gas, including with Russia, as well as the declaration of neutrality by the Czech Republic and “liberation from subordination to the EU, WHO and the United Nations“.
In addition, the participants of the rally demanded the resignation of the Czech government led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala and the holding of early parliamentary elections. If the government does not resign by September 25, then, as the organizers said, they will announce “measures of force at the demonstration on September 28.”
“If the government does not resign by September 25, then at the nationwide demonstration on September 28, we will announce, according to the Czech Constitution, the civil right to disobedience, as well as the holding of actions to put pressure [on the Cabinet],” said the organizers of the rally. They are already negotiating with trade unions, entrepreneurs, farmers, transport workers and other organizations to declare a strike across the country.
Politicians, scientists and public figures who spoke at the rally, in particular, called for immediate negotiations with Russia to conclude direct contracts for the supply of gas to the Czech Republic.
“We demand that the government instruct our experts [in the field of energy] so that they can act on behalf of the citizens of the Czech Republic and conclude short-term contracts by the end of this year for the supply of cheap gas and oil where the republic will still be given [the opportunity to receive] these goods,” stated the organizers.
The participants of the rally, insisted on holding early parliamentary elections, accused the Czech authorities of implementing a policy contrary to national interests, and also chanted slogans against the war and the desire for peace.
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On August 26, Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blažek saw a threat to the political system in rising energy prices. In his opinion, since 1989 there has not been a situation in the social and political sphere more dramatic. The politician admitted that in case of deterioration of the situation in the republic, mass protests could be repeated, which led to the removal of the Communists from power in 1989.
The day before, it became known that Czech universities may switch to distance learning in the new academic year due to a sharp increase in electricity prices. Total electricity costs in the universities of the republic may increase four times compared to last year.
The annual inflation rate in the Czech Republic accelerated to 17.5 percent in July 2022 from 17.2 percent in the previous month, still below market expectations of 17.6 percent. It was the highest reading since December 1993, as prices advanced faster for housing & utilities (23.1 percent vs. 22.8 percent in June), food & non-alcoholic beverages (19.3 percent vs. 18.0 percent), and miscellaneous goods & services (11.1 percent vs. 10.1 percent). On the other hand, prices rose at a softer pace for transport (23 percent vs. 24 percent) and recreation & culture (12.5 percent vs. 12.6 percent). Monthly, consumer prices rose 1.3 percent, easing from a 1.6 percent increase in June and below market forecasts of 1.4 percent.
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