Security expert: Paramilitary groups “reason for concern”

Self-styled “home guard” paramilitary groups now have around 2,000 members in the Czech Republic and represent a significant security threat. That’s according to the Ministry of the Interior’s latest report on extremism. It warns that some of these groups are xenophobic and racist and are attempting to forge ties with members of the police.

Andor Šándor, photo: Adam Kebrt / Czech RadioAndor Šándor, photo: Adam Kebrt / Czech Radio I discussed the situation with former Czech Military Intelligence chief Andor Šándor. He says the paramilitaries’ anti-migrant ideology reflects political rhetoric.

“When they hear that migrants are a threat and they hear that Muslims should be excluded from life in this country, then you cannot be surprised that the people – who listen to the politicians – are partly racist too.

“These people are racist, and to an extent they are close to part of the police, which in my understanding is very, very dangerous.

“If a police force that is here to protect civilians and to see to it that laws are adhered to by all citizens, if that force – or part of it – is close to these paramilitaries, that is very bad and should be dealt with immediately.”

If these groups are, evidently, legal, should the state be taking any action against them? What should the state be doing in the face of these groups?

“First of all, the state should send a strong signal to the whole population: We’re here to protect you, we’re here to defend you, because the money you pay in taxes mainly goes for the security of your life, your family and your property.

“If the state doesn’t do that – which it does – then you will have people prepared to take part in defence on their own, without taking into account that there’s a state here with all the military and the police and so on.

“What can the state do? I don’t know the laws. But it can watch and follow their activities and if it’s not legal they should prosecute those who break the law.

Illustrative photo: Jana ŠustováIllustrative photo: Jana Šustová “I’ll tell you something – in this country it is not illegal to wear a uniform, even if you have never been in the military in your life.

“So anybody who has the money can buy a uniform, either a parade or battle uniform, and can run, go and wear it anywhere they want. Which is very bad.”

Generally, do you regard these paramilitary groups as a reason for concern?

“It is a reason for concern. Not because of the fact that they exist, but because of the trend.

“If you see the trend, that the European Union is not able to find a common way to solve the migration crisis – which is not as big as it used to be but it may be [again], we never know – then people have the feeling that if Europe is not able to do that, and the state is not able to do that, then it’s up to us to protect our families and our properties.

“This is a problem, because if citizens of the state believe that the state is not here to protect them, then they don’t have any other possibility but to do it themselves. And that’s wrong.”