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June 24, 2018
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Czech MP trafficks in poverty, exploits Romani people - who's the "parasite" now?

4.11.2017 21:28
A campaign billboard for the SPD party of Tomio Okamura, October 2017, which says
A campaign billboard for the SPD party of Tomio Okamura, October 2017, which says "Money for the decent, not for the parasites". (PHOTO:

Tomio Okamura and his "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party sharply objected, during their election campaign, to people who depend on social welfare in the Czech Republic. Candidates for the SPD called such people "inadaptables" or "parasites".

However, one of the newly elected MPs for the SPD, Lubomír Volný, turns a profit precisely out of the desperation of Romani families who receive state housing benefits. Czech daily Mf DNES reports that the MP leases Romani tenants two decrepit buildings in Ostrava at costly rents.

"We pay CZK 12 000 [EUR 468] per month," the newspaper quotes one Romani woman as saying. A municipally-owned apartment unit of that same size in Ostrava can be leased for CZK 3 000 [EUR 117] monthly.

The families are only able to pay the overpriced rents thanks to welfare, which means the newly-elected MP, who was the regional candidate list leader for the party and who is also a Regional Assembly member, is cashing in on state money. "For a three-room apartment of a standard size with standard equipment it is customary to pay around CZK 10 000 [EUR 390] in Ostrava," Zdeněk Rolák from the "Comfort reality" agency told Mf DNES.

"In a locality like Přívoz, given its reputation and the people who live there, the rent should be 20 - 30 % lower," he said. "If an apartment owner asks for CZK 12 000, he is just doing so thanks to the generous state welfare system, which is paying it."

Mf DNES reports that Volný has bought two buildings Přívoz, which is a Romani ghetto. Each building is three stories high.

He paid CZK 1.25 million [EUR 48 701] in 2013 for one of the properties, according to the purchase agreement Mf DNES has seen. The other building cost CZK 1.95 million [EUR 75 974] in 2012.

The MP has not explained to Mf DNES why he is making money out of state welfare this way and feeding into the trafficking in poverty that is going on in the Czech Republic. Mf DNES reporters called his mobile phone, which he did not answer, sent him text messages which he did not respond to, and knocked on his front door, which he did not open.

On Facebook the MP has recently deflected similar inquiries by alleging that he is not making money on the state contributions and that the state is just equalizing his tenants' weak wages. News server has previously reported that despite Okamura promising, in his party's program, that he would advocate for the adoption of a law against loan-sharking, another MP from his party, the leader of the SPD candidate list in the Pardubice Region, Jiří Kohoutek, is also a provider of loans outside the banking sector.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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