Analysis: New Czech party draws inspiration from the Kremlin
Czech news server Manipulátoři.cz has published an analysis by Miloš Kadlec about a proposal made by the Tricolor party, headed by Václav Klaus, Jr, that the state stop financing what it calls "political nonprofits". News server Romea.cz is publishing it and the press release from the Tricolor party that prompted it in full translation here; we will also publish a separate translation of the reaction from the IQ Roma servis nonprofit organization.
Miloš Kadlec: Nonprofit organizations - inspiration from the Kremlin for Tricolor and the "experts" Mach and Šichtařová
The Tricolor party's recent press release [see below] is absolutely confused. Given our experience of them to date, we are able to sense that Kerlesová, the party's press spokesperson, contributed significantly to writing it.
Above all, the party is not clear on what a "political nonprofit" is allegedly supposed to be. Some of the organizations it mentions - the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion and the Office of the Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman) - decidedly do not meet that definition.
The Office of the Public Defender of Rights is, as the Tricolor press release correctly states, "an institution established by law with its headquarters in Brno". That would be Act No. 349/1999, Coll. of 8 December 1999, on the Public Defender of Rights.
Article 2, paragraph 2 of that law states: "The Public Defender is elected by the Chamber of Deputies for a term of six years from among the nominated candidates, two of whom are proposed by the President of the Republic and two of whom are proposed by the Senate; it is possible for both branches to propose the same candidate. The Public Defender can be elected for no more than two consecutive terms."
It is difficult to imagine how the Chamber of Deputies could be involved in electing the leadership of a nonprofit organization. Anybody with an ounce of the common sense that Klaus, Jr so loves to call for would realize this immediately (however, it seems rationality was not much applied during the writing of this press release).
The amount of CZK 150 million [EUR 6 million] mentioned in the press release as the annual budget for the ombudsman is quite impressive - but it has nothing to do with the financing expended on nonprofit organizations by the state. The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion fares similarly in the press release.
Tricolor correctly identifies the Agency as "a department of the Human Rights Section at the Office of the Government". They must believe the Office of the Government is itself a nonprofit organization.
Brilliant! This shows us whom we have the honor of dealing with as experts from this party.
Either these people know nothing of what they are writing about here, or they are shamelessly lying and twisting the facts. It rather seems to us that the latter is the case, because Markéta Šichtařová, mentioned in the headline, lies quite arbitrarily about nonprofit organizations and, when her lies are brought to her attention, is unable to argue in support of her allegations - all she knows how to do is to deviate into ad hominem attacks (which is indeed typical of all those peddling disinformation and lies).
However, the party's experts, Mach and Šichtařová, don't just want to abolish the financing of nonprofit organizations from Czech taxes - they also want to stop the financing of nonprofit organizations from abroad, as the press release reveals. It is clear to see that they have taken inspiration from Russia (which is where the concept of a "political nonprofit" comes from), specifically, from a law adopted by the Duma on 13 July 2012.
The full title of Federal Act No. 121-F3 is the "Law on Changes to Certain Legal Acts Involving Adjustments to the Activities of Nonprofit Organizations Fulfilling the Function of Foreign Agents." That legislation requires nonprofit organizations receiving money from abroad to officially register as so-called "foreign agents" with the Russian authorities or face a fine and possible dissolution if they do not comply.
This Russian law was meant to impact organizations performing "political activity", as follows: "6. A nonprofit organization performing the function of a foreign agent is, under current federal law, understood to mean a Russian nonprofit organization that receives financial resources and other assets from foreign states, from foreign state bodies, from international and foreign organizations, from the citizens of foreign states, from stateless persons or persons empowered by them, and/or that receives financing from Russian legal entities receiving financial resources and other assets from the above-mentioned sources, with the exception of open joint stock companies with state participation and their daughter companies (hereinafter, "foreign resources"), and which contribute to political activity on the territory of the Russian Federation in the interest of sources from abroad, among other matters."
Russian President Vladimir Putin justified this law on 31 July 2012 when discussing it with participants in a forum at Lake Seliger as follows: "You know, in the first place, this requirement relates just to those organizations that are involved with political activities and that are receiving financial resources from abroad. I assume that we in Russia are able to have a law like the one that was adopted and has been functioning in the United States of America since 1938. Why is it that they have insulated themselves against foreign influence, why is it that they have been using that law for decades, but we in Russia can't do the same? Yes, the law was adopted in 1938, but it is used to this day, nobody has ever overturned it, it works... What's bad about somebody who receives financial resources from abroad, who is involved with political activity inside this state, having to register as a foreign agent? After all, if foreigners are paying for political activity in our country, it seems they are counting on some kind of outcome, but that doesn't mean this or that organization, registered in such a way, would have to stop existing. The law does not ban their activity, it just speaks of the necessity to register and account for the money spent - that's all. The activity is not forbidden in such a case... As for the names themselves, you all know that when I worked for a certain organization, I worked with several residents and they were in contact with agency groups and agents. However, those were different residents and different agents. We have, for example, insurance agents in the insurance business, and what else would they be considered? In the tax law, also, this concept of 'tax resident' exists. Are we supposed to abolish that concept, perhaps? The representatives of NGOs who receive money from abroad and are involved in political activities inside Russia are obliged to register as foreign agents. I don't see anything wrong with that."
The Tricolor party in the Czech Republic has now copied this same argumentation from Putin. The situation in Russia very clearly demonstrates to us what it means to be a "political nonprofit" - if the state declares an organization to be one, then it becomes one.
According to Putin himself, this law was meant to be about organizations involved with politics, but in actuality a much broader take on which organizations qualified as "foreign agents" has proved to be the case. The following organizations were included on the "foreign agents" register in Russia, for example:
* The "Dynasty" Foundation, which supports scientific/cultural programs
* The memorial complex "Perm-36", a former forced labor camp where dissidents were imprisoned, which has been transformed into a museum
* The "Memorial" human rights center, which is involved in researching political repression in the former USSR and preserving the memories of its victims
* The association of Mothers of Soldiers in St. Petersburg
* The charity foundation for aid to refugees and internally displaced persons called "Civic Aid"
* The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (in Russian prisons, by the way, torture is a favorite pastime of the guards)
* The Saratov Association of Diabetics (SROOBISD)
* The Inter-regional Trade Union Workers Association
Currently, by the way, there is no discussion at all of these organizations' political activity. That the Tricolor party in the Czech Republic has been inspired by the Kremlin is also demonstrated by other rhetorical devices used in its press release.
Among other organizations, the press release mentions the Open Society Fund Prague, which was previously financed by George Soros, who is considered the Devil in Russia. In the case of the Transitions association, the Tricolor party writes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which donated funds to that organization, that it is "the long arm of the US Government for implementing spring revolutions."
In Russia, the Kremlin stooges have officially written about the NED for several years now as an alleged inciter of "color revolutions" (in its press release, the Tricolor party apparently got confused and wrote "spring revolutions"). However, that foundation's activity was already banned in Russia in 2015 - according to a different law, one about undesirable organizations, which Tricolor would certainly also welcome adopting in the Czech Republic.
As for the other Czech organizations mentioned in the press release - IQ Roma servis, z.s., the Organization for Aid to Refugees (OPU) - it is not clear from the press release what their "political activity" is, and the mention of the People in Need organization promoting the use of dolls with different skin colors in nursery schools is laughable. In the case of the Transitions nonprofit, nothing is mentioned, which is very poor with respect to argumentation.
Perhaps People in Need's program on "Stories of Injustice" or their program on media education implemented as part of the "One World in the Schools" event, which is meant to increase schoolchildren's resistance to being manipulated by the media, might be what bothers the Tricolor party (and given Klaus, Jr's systematic telling of lies, that would at least make his distaste for them comprehensible). This demonstrates where the party is unambiguously heading - into a world of traditional, conservative, but above all, Putinesque values, where the role of the rest of us will be to "shut up", as our dear Mr President instructed us to do after he was re-elected.
PRESS RELEASE OF THE TRICOLOR MOVEMENT
Political nonprofits are endangering democracy, Tricolor wants to abolish their financing from our taxes.
Approximately CZK 16 billion [EUR 630 million] annually is allocated from the state budget to finance nonprofit organizations. As part of this, so-called political nonprofit organizations are also being paid to promote ideological, political positions. The Tricolor movement considers this a great danger to democracy and wants to abolish the financing of political nonprofits from public money and from foreign sources.
"The subjects promoted by political nonprofits are frequently neo-Marxist, progressive, or at least extremely liberal. Typically they include support for positive discrimination of homosexually-oriented persons; one-sided support for migration and multiculturalism; the topic designated as gender, which involves supporting a multiplicity of sexes; environmentalism and others. We consider it unfair to finance these activities from public monies because this is about supporting certain political positions to the detriment of other political positions. This is about an artificial forcing of progressive themes onto Czech society," said Markéta Šichtařová, who manages the Tricolor movement's program on economic development and the entrepreneurial environment.
Tricolor believes that the principle of endangering the democratic process consists of non-elected political nonprofits acquiring, through this public money, significant influence over the redistribution of money from taxpayers, influence over public opinion, influence over artificially creating issues in society, and therefore, indirect influence over the outcome of elections. Political nonprofits, moreover, create the appearance of acting in the public interest by exploiting public money.
Among the most famous political nonprofit organizations are, for example, People in Need, Prague Pride, Open Society Fund Prague and many others. "Abolishing the public financing of political nonprofits and their funding from foreign sources will save taxpayers money and level the playing field for political competition so that the advocates of some political positions will not be disadvantaged by public [funding] support compared to advocates of other political positions, and it will reduce the advocacy of foreign interests on Czech territory," said another expert on economics for the Tricolor movement, Petr Mach.
Tricolor has nothing against private organizations involving themselves in humanitarian and sports activities, animal protection, etc. Tricolor also does not have anything against private organizations promoting and defending different political positions, like the "Million Moments for Democracy" association, for example, which collects small contributions from donors. "We are emphatically against the financing of political nonprofits from the Czech Republic's public resources, from foreign governments, from foreign citizens without voting rights in the Czech Republic, and from international institutions, though. Stopping this can be achieved by adopting a special law to ban the provision of grants and subsidies to nonprofits for a political agenda," added Šichtařová.
Examples of political nonprofits:
People in Need (Člověk v tísni) - This enormous organization with a budget of several billion crowns annually mostly is involved in activities abroad sponsored by foreign donors. Its domestic political activities include, for example, education on multiculturalism and globalization in the schools (starting with nursery schools). Their projects include, e.g., training preschool teachers to use dolls of different skin colors so children learn about diversity.
Prague Pride, z.s. - The Prague Pride pressure organization runs a project called "We Are Fair" - events pressuring politicians to consider supporting "homosexual marriage". They have the support of both private institutions (such as the Staropramen brand, the Vodafone brand, the Open Society Fund) and public ones (the capital city of Prague, the EU and the Czech Interior Ministry for co-financing).
The Open Society Fund Prague - This was established in Prague in 1992 as one of the first political nonprofits in the Czech Republic and as a component of the international network of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), which was established by the American investor George Soros and works in more than 70 countries worldwide. In the countries where OSF works it actively supports liberal, left-wing, progressive issues.
The Office of the Public Defender of Rights, the so-called Ombudsman - This institution is infamous for its support for provocations by so-called Romani actors who did their best to catch real estate agents in the act of "discrimination". It was established by law with its headquarters in Brno and its overall budget is almost CZK 150 million [EUR 6 million]. This institution can be abolished by law.
The Agency for Social Inclusion - The Agency is infamous for the Hate Free Culture project. It is a department of the Human Rights Section at the Office of the Government. It is administered by the Office of the Government.
IQ Roma servis, z.s. - This association, with 55 employees and a budget of CZK 20 million [EUR 786 000] annually, is renowned for the provocative telephone calls made in collaboration with the Office of the Ombudsman during which the Romani employees of the association feigned interest in leasing apartments and then demanded compensation when they were rejected. The association lives off of subsidies; in 2017 (the last year for which accounting information is available) its operational subsidies from the state budget were CZK 13 million [EUR 510,887], subsidies from regional administrations were CZK 5.7 million [EUR 224,004], subsidies from the EU co-financed from the Czech Republic's budget were CZK 2.3 million [EUR 90 400], and other grants were CZK 3 million [EUR 118 000].
Transitions (association) - Sponsors: The International Visegrad Fund, the Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry, the National Endowment for Democracy (the long arm of the US Government for implementing spring revolutions), the Embassy of the United States of America in Prague, and in the past, the Open Society Institute (Soros).
Association for Integration and Migration (Sdružení pro integraci a migraci, o.p.s.) - Legal aid to migrants and a classic multicultural/gender agenda - e.g., its project called "Migrant Women Without Worries". Donors: Open Society Fund (Soros), Norway Grants, the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, Ladder, ALDA, the EU.
Organization for Aid to Refugees (Organizace pro pomoc uprchlíkům) (association) - This organization's main activities include providing free legal and social advice to applicants for international protection and to other foreigners in the Czech Republic and running educational programs and other activities aiming to support the integration of foreigners. According to its annual report, in 2018 the operations of the organization were financed especially from EU sources, the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, and several Regional Authorities with an annual budget of more than CZK 34 million [EUR 1 336 000].
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