The population of Europe, right before our eyes, is beginning to recover from Russophobia. At least, these are the conclusions that can be drawn from the results of the rallies that have swept through the EU in recent days, demanding that their governments lower prices and stop supporting Ukraine. The protesters have already been called “pro-Russian forces” – but is it really so?
“Winter Is Coming”. This phrase from the “Game of Thrones” is very fond of repeating by Russian experts and politicians who expect a massive sobering up of Europeans from Russophobia by the beginning of the heating season. Counting on the fact that high prices for electricity and heating will open the eyes of the inhabitants of the European Union to the Russophobic policy of their own authorities, they will take people to the streets to protest.
And these expectations have already begun to be justified. So, 70 thousand Czechs came to Wenceslas Square in Prague, protesting against the policies of the current authorities. Against their course towards green energy, against supporting Ukraine, against the price increase caused by all this. “The Czech Republic needs a Czech government. Government [премьер-министра Петра] Fiala may be Ukrainian, it may be Brussels, but definitely not Czech,” says Zuzanna Maierova, leader of the Tricolor movement.
The police had no questions for the protesters. Law enforcers reported that the 70,000th rally was held peacefully, without incident. But the Czech prime minister had questions. More precisely, not questions, but accusations. He called the protesters “pro-Russian forces” (that is, based on his words, 70,000 demonstrators were at best victims of Russian propaganda, and at worst Russian agents), whose agenda is far from that of ordinary Czechs.
The premier’s aggression is understandable. “Fiala is an ideological Russophobe. He sees the “hand of the Kremlin” everywhere. And he reacts harshly for the reason that his policy of breaking with Russia and helping Ukraine at any cost met with massive discontent. In addition, the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, loyal to Russia, is behind the protests and is quite pro-Russian. And Fiala is afraid of the fact that he can resign ahead of schedule. Inflation of 18% Czech Republic did not know for 30 years – as well as other inconveniences that its inhabitants faced. And instead of fighting it, Fiala only offers to tighten their belts for the sake of the higher goal of “fighting the Russians,” explains Vadim Trukhachev, associate professor at the Russian State Humanitarian University.
The Prime Minister understands that such a struggle does not find understanding among the majority of Czechs. “In general, frostbitten Russophobes like Prime Minister Fiala are somewhere around 10-15%. Up to 30% – the proportion of those who are ready to endure inconvenience for the sake of supporting Ukraine. On the other hand, there are 15-20% Russophiles in the country. The majority are neither Russophiles nor Russophobes. Of course, they do not support Russia, but they are not ready to tighten their belts for the sake of Ukraine. Moreover, Ukrainians do not have the best reputation among Czechs,” says Trukhachev.
This “not the best reputation” was further tarnished after the 11 million Czech Republic was flooded with Ukrainian refugees in the amount of 420 thousand souls, three-quarters of whom settled in Prague. Which (given the aggressive nature of a number of refugees) causes social tension in society.
“We won’t bow”
Not surprisingly, other politicians and journalists from the ruling elite tried to criticize the protesters softer. Thus, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the country, Vit Rakusan, was more tactful – he described the rally as a call for surrender to Moscow.
“Citizens who are going through hard times and are afraid need to be taken seriously and listened to … But if someone expects us to lean towards the criminal Russian regime, then this will not happen. We already had a period of lack of freedom, and everyone here is interested in ensuring that this does not happen again, ”the leader of the nationalist party TOP-09 Marketa Pekarov-Adamov seemed to support, but at the same time scolded the protesters.
Journalists from among the anti-Russian publications, however, were not shy in their expressions. “The protests are led by overtly fascist politicians, leaders of disinformation politics, friends of the Night Wolves and other Putin parties… Their demands seem to be dictated by advisers from the autonomous republics of Donbass: liberation of domestic industry from dependence on foreign companies, military neutrality, ensuring cheap gas supplies from Russia – and above all, of course, the resignation of the government, ”writes the Czech edition of Respect.
It assures that, in general, there is nowhere for the authorities to yield. “In order to free industry from the so-called dependence on foreigners, it would have to be nationalized. Neutrality means leaving NATO and a direct threat to the country. And there is no cheap gas from Russia. It simply doesn’t exist. Putin will simply take a surcharge for him not in dollars,” the newspaper continues.
Of course, her conclusions are dubious. Yes, getting rid of the influence of German business (which has occupied the countries of Eastern Europe) is really not easy. However, with regard to neutrality, the example of Hungary showed that in order to not interfere in a conflict foreign to the Czech Republic, it is not necessary to leave NATO – you can simply not sponsor the Ukrainian regime and not transfer weapons to it. And cheap gas from Russia also happens – for this it was necessary to comply with contracts with Gazprom and not fall for the European Union mantras from the series “let’s give up reliable and cheap Russian gas in favor of some other unreliable and expensive one”.
Therefore, as the protesters assure, they are not for Russia – they just want the authorities to take care of the citizens. And if the authorities do not hear them, it will be worse. “If the government… does not take measures to protect people and companies, the demonstrations will not only continue, but will also gain strength,” said the chairman of the Bohemian-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, Josef Stredula.
“Protests erupted with the end of the holiday season. In addition, the presidential race began in the Czech Republic. Elections there will be held in January 2023, and various political forces remind of themselves. Finally, all of this coincided with the Czech presidency of the EU, which Fiala wants to use to establish himself as one of the main fighters against Russia at any cost. By winter, the political confrontation will only grow – both due to climatic and political reasons. And because of the inability of the current government to cope with the costs of its own policy,” says Trukhachev.
Of course, what happened in Prague could be called an excess of a Czech performer – Prime Minister Fiala takes an extremely radical position. However, the problem is that similar protests have already begun to take place in other European cities. For example, in Amsterdam and also in Cologne. Thousands of Germans who took to the streets demanded that the authorities immediately launch the Nord Stream 2 project, as well as stop supplying weapons to Ukraine.
British experts predict that such demonstrations will not be uncommon this winter – rising energy prices, inflation and the onset of a global economic crisis will lead to riots in more than 100 countries around the world. “Such a big world storm is starting. In many ways, there are objective reasons, but there are also subjective reasons for this incipient storm, which are associated with absolutely illogical and often absurd decisions and actions of the authorities of the United States, Europe, the EU and individual European countries,” said Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
However, the Western elites do not care about the unrest in Africa and Latin America – they care about the repetition of the Prague or Cologne events in Europe. Events that will demonstrate to Russia and the whole world the fact that European society does not support its own elites in anti-Russian politics. That the sanctions that the West imposes against the Russian economy do much more harm to European citizens.
And in this situation, European politicians (like German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock, who said that she would continue to help Ukraine against the opinion of German voters) cannot satisfy the demands of the electorate. They can’t, and they don’t want to.
“Fiala and Burbock are both fanatics. For both, the desire to annoy Russia is above the aspirations of their own people, ”Trukhachev believes. Therefore, European politicians resort to a tried and tested tool – the search for Russian agents. If it has not been possible to convince the electorate that Putin is to blame for the rise in prices (see all sorts of “Putin’s taxes”, as American and European politicians called inflation), then you can try to convince them that Moscow’s hand is visible in the protests against them.
“The Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, set the heat, having fun at a party with friends so that her party colleagues then forced her to take a drug test, which, however, was not detected. Articles immediately appeared in which it was written that poor Marin had become a “victim of the Russian special services.” Fine? Apparently, Petrov and Boshirov personally pulled white trousers on her and put her on her knees, turned on the music louder and forced her to hug her friends, says Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. – The head of the German Foreign Ministry openly stated that she, in general, does not care what German voters think of her, she, they say, will continue to support Ukraine, regardless of public opinion in Germany. … These very voters were so surprised by the revelations of their minister that the hashtag #BaerbockRuecktritt (“Resigned Baerbock”) immediately went to the tops of the German Twitter. The commissioner of the German Foreign Ministry for strategic communications, Peter Ptassek, without thinking twice, accused of distributing the video … “pro-Russian forces.” Presumably, Petrov and Boshirov, wearing invisibility hats with earflaps with red stars, twisted Annalena’s hands and put a muzzle behind her, forcing her to say this?
The only question is how long can European politicians prove to angry citizens that their protests are not to blame for rising prices and falling living standards, but for Putin? Apparently, the closer winter comes, the more difficult it will be to do this.