The sometimes incendiary nature of recent Czech history has once again been demonstrated. Lower house of parliament lawmakers have backed a proposal to rename the November 17 holiday which marks the start of the Velvet Revolution in a move which has been interpreted as a victory of sorts for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM).
The government on Monday agreed to send an additional 105 million crowns in aid largely to the Middle East and Africa this year and an additional 70 million in the next to help countries in the region hit by the refugee crisis. The bulk of the funds will go to two EU funds for Syria and Africa but some will also be set aside for the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Communist Party deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš is perhaps not somebody one would expect to be a fan of The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground rock band persecuted in the 1970s and ‘80s by the Communist regime. Some of his followers are angry after Mr. Dolejš posted their photo on his Facebook page and have slammed the group in language reminiscent of pre-1989 propaganda.
Communist Party deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš has come in for criticism from some supporters for posting a photo of the band The Plastic People of the Universe on his Facebook page, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Members of the then underground group were imprisoned under the communist regime and they had strong links to the dissident movement. The MP shared a picture of the Plastic People on the social networking site, adding the word “legend”. Beneath this followers wrote comments such as “Why are you a Communist MP? Your legend was against socialism” and “junkies with unmelodic lyrics”.
Members of the country’s Communist Party have distanced themselves from
highly-controversial statements made by one of its own members, MP Marta
Semelová, related to an infamous show trial in the Stalinist 1950s that
democratic politician Milada Horáková found guilty of high treason and
sentenced to death. A guest on a Czech TV interview programme, Semelová
went so far as to suggest that Mrs Horáková’s confession need not have
been coerced by the former regime.
Senior members of the Communist Party, including deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš, have since reacted, saying they did not share their colleague’s opinion. Mr Dolejš made clear that the opposite was true: that during what was one of the darkest periods in Czechoslovak history, suspects could be made to confess to anything, daily Lidové noviny reports. A member of a local NGO is considering pressing charges against Marta Semelová over her statements; a number of centre-right politicians have expressed support, saying the matter should be settled in court.
Deputy Communist Party leader Jiří Dolejš has suggested that support from within his party is likely higher for Social Democratic presidential hopeful Jiří Dienstbier than for fellow fellow candidate and former Social Democrat leader Miloš Zeman. Mr Dolejš was reacting to an appeal by current Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka at the weekend for the Left to align behind a single candidate, to curb right-wing or conservative candidates' chances of being elected. Despite the appeal, Mr Dolejš made clear he did not know who his party leadership would recommend. The country faces its first direct presidential election in January; President Václav Klaus ends his final term in March.
Two senior Communist MPs resigned from their posts in the party leadership on Tuesday in connection with a cash-for-influence scandal which came to light last week. Jiří Dolejš and Čeněk Milota resigned from their positions as deputy heads of the Communist Party after newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes claimed they were willing to push for changes in a draft bill on gambling in return for one million crowns (57,900 USD) in cash. Mr Dolejš told reporters after resigning from his function that he had no plans to resign as an MP. On Tuesday, the Christian Democrats accepted their general secretary Jiří Stodůlka’s resignation in connection with the scandal. Former Christian Democrat and prospective TOP 09 candidate Ladislav Šustr said he would no longer run in next spring’s general elections after being implicated in the scandal.
Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip is demanding the resignation of two deputy chairmen after an investigative report indicated they were susceptible to corruption. Čenek Milota and Jiří Dolejš were asked by a Mladá fronta Dnes reporter, posing as a casino owner, to attempt to modify an upcoming amendment to the lotteries act in exchange for party donations of one million crowns. Both indicated they were willing to cooperate. Party leader Vojtěch Filip said both officials should immediately account for their behavior and leave their posts. An extraordinary meeting of the party leadership has been called for Tuesday. MP Ladislav Šustr, a leading candidate for the new centre-right party TOP 09, resigned his seat in parliament on Saturday for the same reason.