Communist to stand trial

28-07-2000

The Czech police are prosecuting the author of a website that promotes hard-line Communism. There have been several trials in the past with neo-Nazi skinheads, but this is the first time someone has faced trial for propagating Communist ideas. According to Czech law, the two ideologies are equally dangerous. But do they receive equel treatment? Vladimir Tax reports.

The Czech police have confirmed that this is the first case of a left-wing extremist being prosecuted for his beliefs. If convicted, the man faces up to eight years in prison. On his Website, he calls for a return to communism, a proletarian dictatorship, nationalisation of industry and an armed revolution, if necessary, to achieve these aims. He makes no attempt to hide his admiration for infamous communist leaders such as Stalin, Gottwald and others.

Czech law bans the promotion of ideologies that aim to suppress basic human rights and freedoms, which communism as the Czech Republic experienced it before 1989 undoubtedly does. This, of course, is not the first case of propagation of hard-line communism in the Czech Republic. However, until now, the police only prosecuted far-right extremists, not left-wing radicals. The reason might be some sort of schizophrenia in this country - the Communist Party Of Bohemia and Moravia which was born from the ashes of the pre-1989 ruling Communist Party, is now the third most popular political party and is represented in parliament. One might argue that they are more of a standard left-wing party, like many similar ones across Europe.

But there is also the Czechoslovak Communist Party, established by one of the communist era's highest-ranking officials, Miroslav Stepan. Although their programme includes the removal of democratic institutions and re-establishment of Stalinist-type communism, there has been no effort on the part of the police to prosecute them. The question then arises why an individual is standing trial for promotion of hard-line communism, yet former leading figures of the communist regime are allowed to plot against democracy. A court verdict in this case might be a much awaited precedent indicating that extremists - whether right- or left-wing - will not be free to advocate the suppression of human rights.

28-07-2000