Monday, 23 October 2017

Respekt: President Zeman brings Bolshevik revival

ČTK |
23 May 2017

Prague, May 22 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman is a representative of the Bolshevik revival who managed to rise to power in the country, although many people believed that the hardline Communists cannot succeed in the Czech Republic anymore, Marek Svehla writes in weekly Respekt out yesterday.

When the communist regime fell in Czechoslovakia in 1989, it was surprising how quickly and easily the officials of the once all-powerful Communist Party left public life, he says.

The concerns that such a strong destructive social force could not have simply disappeared focused on the hard core of the Czech Communist Party (KSCM) that usually wins about 15 percent of the vote in general elections and is waiting for the moment when the others will need it as a coalition partner, Svehla writes.

He says the KSCM has remained unreformed and kept its name, it always comfortably entered parliament, but stayed isolated on the periphery of the political scene since the democratic parties refused to cooperate with it.

Svehla says a big part of the 1.5 million of the former members of the pre-1989 communist party moved to other political parties in which they smoothly turned into democrats.

However, it is Zeman thanks to whom the communist style has reappeared in top Czech politics, he indicates.

Svehla writes that Zeman is surrounded by people who were communist officials in the 1970s and 1980s, especially the sycophants from the Party of Citizens' Rights (SPO) headed by former agriculture apparatchik Jan Veleba. These people are united by the cult of Zeman and they attack public media for the slightest criticism of their idol, he adds.

Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek is a former journalist of the communist newspaper Halo noviny who disrespects the rules of common decency, for example by attacking cabinet members, Svehla writes.

Zeman does not apply the principle of the postcommunist democratic politics, according to which people whose collaboration with the StB communist secret service has been proved should not occupy significant posts, Svehla writes, referring to the case of Karel Srp whom Zeman proposed for a member of an ethical commission assessing potential resistance fighters against the communist regime.

Svehla says Zeman has Bolshevik manners himself: he is rude and aggressive towards those who do not lick his boots and he curses anybody who displeases him.

Zeman openly flatters Russia and China, the two countries which Czech communists tend to support. His assistants and aides include people with unclear business and political links to the Kremlin and its allied companies, Svehla writes.

Hinting at Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar, he says Zeman violates the rules that the West defined to reinforce its security, such as that all crucial officials who receive sensitive information must pass security vetting. Zeman also pays no attention to the violation of human rights in the world and its criticism, one of the pillars on which the Czech postcommunist politics developed, Svehla writes.

Zeman prefers the interests of his powerful friends abroad to the rights of the Czech citizens. During the Prague visit of China's President Xi Jinping last year, Zeman instructed the Czech police to remove the peaceful pro-Tibet gatherings from the streets because the Chinese did not like them, Svehla writes.

"Zeman simply acts in the same way as the hardline communists would have acted if they regained power: they would not put the country in reverse towards communism and they would not display their ideology. With ostentatious indifference to democratic traditions and rules, they would return their own people - who would be servants to the Kremlin and who would push the Czech Republic back to the embrace of Russia - to public space, influential posts and finances," Svehla writes.

One wonders how easily have the Czechs replaced Vaclav Havel by an anti-Havel, and Havel's ideas by their denial, he says.

During his visit to China earlier this month, Zeman told Russian President Vladimir Putin that journalists should be liquidated. This image looks like the return to the times when Russian experts advised the Czechs on similar issues, Svehla writes.

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