Supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party gathered in front of Berlin's Reichstag building on Saturday to protest rising prices in Germany. The party's co-leader accused the government of waging war on its own people by sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
The protest comes as the costs of natural gas and electricity shoot up in Germany, largely because Russia has greatly reduced or cut off gas deliveries to the European Union amid tensions between the West and Moscow.
After the rally outside the German parliament building, the demonstrators began a protest march through the city. Counterdemonstrations took place at several locations on its route, organized by groups opposed to the AfD's anti-immigration stance and far-right ideology.
Organizers of the counterprotests say the AfD is instrumentalizing rising food and energy prices to promote its policies.
Participants in the AfD rally, which included a motto of "Our country first," were seen waving not only German flags but also Russian flags and the imperial Reichskrieg flag, often used as a far-right symbol.
According to police estimates, some 10,000 people took part in the AfD demonstration while counterdemonstrators numbered 1,500.
What did the AfD say?
In a speech, AfD co-leader Tino Chrupalla called for the lifting of sanctions against Russia, accusing Economy Minister Robert Habeck of declaring "economic war" on Moscow but waging war instead on the German population.
His calls for Habeck's resignation were met with cheers from his listeners, many of whom chanted "Away with Habeck!" in response.
Chrupalla also had hard words for Habeck's Green Party, one of the three parties making up Germany's ruling coalition.
"We don't need a cap on gas prices; we have to put a cap on the Greens," he said, referring to a recent government decision to set a limit on energy prices to protect consumers and businesses.
Chrupalla claimed that the "gas price will become normal again when we buy cheap gas from Russia," saying that purchasing gas from the United States and the United Arab Emirates, as Germany plans to do, was just as morally suspect.
He also accused the government of ignoring citizens' needs with its policies. "Especially the Greens want our country to be poor and weak," he said.
The AfD's other co-leader, Alice Weidel, had also been scheduled to speak but canceled due to illness.
tj/sms (dpa, AFP, epd)
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