Thousands of Czechs rally against President Zeman over Russia views


PRAGUE (Reuters) - About 10,000 Czechs rallied against President Milos Zeman in central Prague on Thursday, calling for his removal from office for what they say are pro-Russian views that have no place in a European Union nation.

The rally in Wenceslas Square followed Zeman's suggestion last Sunday that Russia was not necessarily behind a 2014 ammunition dump blast in the Czech Republic that killed two people and sparked a row between Prague and Moscow.

Protesters - who mostly observed social distancing due to the coronavirus outbreak - called on senators to file a constitutional lawsuit against Zeman for treason that would remove him from office. Rallies took place in other cities across the nation of 10.7 million.

"We must say again a clear 'No' to the influence of President Zeman over the attitude of our country towards Russia," Hana Strasakova, a spokeswoman for the Million Moments group that organised the protest police estimated at 10,000 people.

"Let's ask for a constitutional lawsuit against President Zeman for treason."

Zeman's statement that an accident should not be ruled out came after the Czech government said it suspected that two Russian spies accused of carrying a nerve agent poisoning in Britain in 2018 were also behind the ammunition dump explosion.

Moscow has denied any role in either event.

Zeman, the head of state who appoints prime ministers but is not involved in the day-to-day running of the country, has often expressed pro-Russian views. He has argued for the purchase of Russian Sputnik V vaccines and for inviting Russia's Rosatom to take part in a tender to build a nuclear power station.

(Reporting by Jiri Skacel, Writing by Michael Kahn, Editing by Giles Elgood)

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