Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion distances itself from group led by candidate for party using racist slogan
The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion (Agentura pro sociální začleňování - APSZ) has distanced itself from the Čonoro group, whose statutory representative and treasurer is Pavel Pöschl. During last year's local elections, Pöschl was a candidate for the "Open Town Hall Most" (Otevřená radnice Most) party, which used the slogan "Poison alone is not good enough for these pests!" on its promotional materials.
Pöschl posted the materials to social networks with the tagline "Zero tolerance for inadaptables". He recently told the media that the group has designed a project together with the APSZ to "address" the situation at the Chanov housing estate in Most, which has many Romani residents.
APSZ director David Beňák says the claim of collaboration with the Agency is untrue. "We have never discussed collaboration with that association, nor with those people, especially not those who ran in the local elections using slogans with hateful subtexts. It is not true that the group has designed some way to 'address Chanov' in collaboration with us," the director said.
"We are, however, naturally prepared to cooperate with anybody who actually is interested in addressing the issue of excluded localities," the APSZ director said. He was responding to claims made by Pöschl in the media.
"We have designed a project to address Chanov. Currently the situation is very tense, the town is advocating the idea of demolishing the prefabricated apartment buildings there and replacing them with container housing. Nobody from Chanov wants that, though, and therefore we have designed a different option in collaboration with the Agency for Social Inclusion, where we consulted on this, and we would like to attempt to advocate for this idea along with the town and to implement it," the Čonoro representative told news server E-mostecko.
Čonoro first informed the public that it was collaborating with the APSZ on 6 November 2018. "Yesterday we visited the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and established cooperation with the Agency for Social Inclusion," the group posted to Facebook beneath a photograph of the APSZ logo.
Pöschl, according to the news server www.justice.cz, has been the treasurer of the group since 26 September 2018. Speaking to the media earlier this month, he said the group, which was first established on 29 December 2017, runs without drawing on public subsidies.
News server Romea.cz, however, has discovered that at the beginning of December 2018 the group filed an application for almost CZK 2 million [EUR 80 000] in public funding support for the operation of its Community Center. "6 December 2018 was the deadline to apply for support from the MAS Naděje o.p.s. call for tenders entitled 'Support for Social Services and Community Centers - operations - II'. Five applications were submitted," reads the website of MAS Naděje o.p.s, where the Čonoro project is listed as having applied.
In the meantime, the scandal of the election campaign by "Open Town Hall Most" in the run-up to last October's local elections has begun to be reviewed by the state prosecutor on suspicion of a racist subtext. Police closed the matter as a misdemeanor and handed it over to the Most town hall to be addressed, but the prosecutor has recently asked for the case to be handed over to them.
Pöschl was a candidate in eighth place on the party's list. Their lead candidate was Karel Novotný, who drew attention previously by remarking on social networks that "gypsies are like jellyfish - poisonous and useless."
At the time Novotný was working as Deputy Industry and Trade Minister and was a member of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD). He subsequently left that party.
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