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Czech extremist praises ombudsman for objecting to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, deputy ombudswoman criticizes those objections

7.3.2022 10:14
Czech Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček (left) and the chair of the extremist right-wing DSSS party, Tomáš Vandas. (2022) (PHOTO:  Wikimedia Commons, Collage:  Romea.cz)
Czech Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček (left) and the chair of the extremist right-wing DSSS party, Tomáš Vandas. (2022) (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, Collage: Romea.cz)

Czech Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) Stanislav Křeček has earned criticism from some politicians and from Deputy Public Defender of Rights Monika Šimůnková for his response to a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which the Ukrainian leader said it was NATO's weakness and rejection of his requests to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine that was leading to Ukrainian deaths. Posting to his Facebook profile, Křeček commented that the Czech Republic is helping Ukraine at Czech citizens' expense and "on top of that we're supposed to allow ourselves to be insulted", which means he "no longer like[s] this". 

Šimůnková has distanced herself from his remarks. On the other hand, the chair of the extremist "Workers' Social Justice Party", Tomáš Vandas, praised the ombudsman's statements.

Deputy Prime Minister/Labor and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL), described the Ombudsman's statement to CNN Prima News as a bit out of touch with reality. According to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (Mayors and Independents - STAN), Křeček should "stop digging artificial ditches" that divide people unnecessarily. 

Zelenskyy had said NATO's refusal to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine has left room open for Russia to bomb Ukraine. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Western officials have ruled out the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine on the grounds that it would require NATO planes to fire on Russian fighter jets. 

According to the West, any altercation could provoke a wider conflict with Russia. "We help as much as we can at the expense of our own citizens. On top of that we're supposed to allow ourselves to be insulted? I no longer like this," Křeček posted to his Facebook profile.

Křeček has since deleted that post, claiming that he did not want to arouse hatred. Today he wrote to the Czech News Agency to say he has clearly expressed his attitude toward the aggression committed by Russia several times and that nothing about his attitude has changed.

"I was just hurt by the accusation against our citizens of weakness. Nothing less, nothing more. Neither the Government nor the citizenry deserves that assessment," Křeček said. 

The ombudsman's words towards Zelenskyy did not go unanswered - news server iDNES.cz reports that Deputy Public Defender of Rights Šimůnková has distanced herself from them. According to her, Křeček is confusing the role of a populist politician with the mission and task of the Public Defender of Rights. 

"As his deputy, not just his posts on Facebook relativizing the conflict in Ukraine, but also his many other statements in recent months about minorities, children's rights, women's rights and so on greatly disturb me and I do not agree with them," said Šimůnková, simultaneously noting that Křeček's statements are doing harm to the excellent work of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights so far. Křeček was praised for his statement by the chair of the extremist "Workers' Social Justice Party", Tomáš Vandas.

"I am glad that the ombudsman retains objectivity and rationality in his views. The idea of Fatima Šabatová still being there is frightening ..." Vandas tweeted [Translator's Note:  the reference is to former ombudswoman Anna Šabatová, who defended the religious freedom of a Muslim woman and is therefore being given this nickname by the Islamophobe].

According to Jurečka, the ombudsman's remark was a bit out of touch with the current reality. "Whoever is ombudsman must understand this situation in context, President Zelenskyy, for all practical purposes, is the 'defender of rights' for his people," Jurečka said during the "Terezia Tománková Show" on CNN Prima News.  

"[Zelenskyy] is extremely exhausted, he is doing the maximum in this oppressive situation, he himself stands for his people on the front line defending their rights, it's necessary to perceive this," the Czech Deputy PM said. "Its understandable that [Zelenskyy's] nerves are also on edge."

"The fact is that [Zelenskyy] wants even more support from the West for his people, and I believe that we all, and the Czech Republic especially, are doing the maximum possible for that, and not just on our own behalf, but also on the international stage," Jurečka said. As for the Czech Interior Minister, he tweeted that ombudsman Křeček needs to understand the Ukrainians are fighting right now for everybody's freedom and that he should stop "digging artificial ditches" that divide people unnecessarily. 

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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DSSS, Extremism, Ombud, Racism, Ukraine



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