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August 15, 2022



Commentary: Is the Czech PM just a liar, or is he also paranoid?

6.6.2019 13:25
Romani local assembly member Karel Karika speaking during the demonstration calling for the resignation of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) on 4 June 2019. (PHOTO:  Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
Romani local assembly member Karel Karika speaking during the demonstration calling for the resignation of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) on 4 June 2019. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

Mário Bihári, a star of the Romani music world, performed, and the Romani politician Karel Karika, a brave person and local assembly member from Ústí nad Labem, gave a speech. The tireless Romani activist Jožka Miker of Teplice was standing right next to me, a man who aids homeless people and the Romani community in the north even though he himself is frequently unable to make ends meet for himself and his own family - and I saw many other Romani people and their friends all around me.

Resign! Resign!

Where was I? At this week's demonstration in Prague along with 100 000 other people (the estimate of the organizers is 120 000) calling for the resignation of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO).

Wenceslas Square was full this time, so the next demonstration will be held on the Letná Plain across from the Sparta football stadium, where there will be room for even more people. These are the latest in just a series of such events being held by the Million Moments for Democracy initiative.

What was the demonstration about? There are different lofty phrases for it: Defending democracy, justice, preserving freedom...

Yes, it was about all that, but primarily it was about the rising number of people who can't take it anymore that the head of the Czech Government is demonstrably a liar and manipulator who shamelessly rakes in as much money as he personally can, an erstwhile Communist secret police informer and a criminally-charged businessman/politician who is abusing his powers for personal gain (conflict of interest). The way he works with reality bothers them also - because in that way, too, he abundantly discredits democracy.

Babiš constantly casts doubt on the systemic credibility of the judiciary and police (allegedly anybody can just "place their order" for a criminal prosecution in our country, according to him); on the reliability of all media outlets (apart from the ones he has bought); and on the right of the opposition to criticize those in power. He is bothered by democratic procedures, above all by the sessions of Parliament - the Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

The Czech PM is constantly communicating the message that if MPs and Senators didn't exist, he would govern much better. He would finally be able to do what he believes appropriate whenever he happens to remember what that is - just like [Hungarian Prime Minister] Orbán, [Russian President] Putin, and [the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People's Republic of China and Chair of the Central Military Commission of China] Xi Jinping, as well as many other autocrats.

Audit #2 heads to the Czech Republic from the EU

After the first audit performed by the European Commission about the subsidy fraud allegedly committed by Babiš made it to Prague and was discussed by the Chamber of Deputies earlier this week, a second such report is also meant to be heading our way from Brussels, news server Neovlivní.cz has reported. "The European Commission is completing another audit that is about the subsidies for the Prime Minister's Agrofert holding," Sabina Slonková's article begins.

"This time it will be about agricultural subsidies that were not covered by the audit report that has been publicized already. It will be about almost CZK 2 billion [EUR 78 million] disbursed to the concern in recent years," Neovlivní.cz claims.

"If the conclusions will be the same as those of the audit that already made it to Prague, it would have a dramatic impact on that holding," Slonková forecasts. Hard times are apparently in store for the country's main businessman/politician.

Conspiracy? No - lies or paranoia

For quite some time now, during each of his troubles, Babiš has shouted something about an alleged campaign against him, a conspiracy. He constantly spews about newer and newer enemies who have no job other than to get under His Majesty's skin.

Every kind of conspirator - from the conceivable to the unthinkable - is allegedly preaching against him, beginning with the journalists whom he has not managed to buy, and ending with the protesters who are allegedly being paid by that billionaire George Soros, of Jewish origin (who else, right?). Similar claims used to be treated by psychiatry as a diagnosis of paranoia.

Babiš is probably not paranoid, just continuing to do what he likes best:  Lying. His rhetoric is shifting in leaps and bounds toward that used by the authoritarian Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, who has clipped the wings of both the judiciary and the media there by means of the law.

If the Czech PM wanted to, he could engage in such politics as well. We have arrived at the moment that has brought demonstrators out in such massive numbers:  We must not allow him to do that, otherwise we will lose our democracy, our freedom and our justice.

Already some ANO movement voters are beginning to comprehend this as well. That is why we have all been standing on Wenceslas Square together, irrespective of the color of our skin or the difference of our opinions on other matters, because there is actually a great deal at stake.

The next demonstration will take place on the Letná Plain in Prague on Sunday, 23 June at 16:30. We'll see you there.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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