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Czech officials will not prosecute complaints that election advertisement was racist

7.1.2017 10:03
Politician Dominik Feri (TOP 09) in a 2016 campaign video for the TOP 09 and Live Brno (Žít Brno) ticket in the elections for the South Moravian Region, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  screen shot from the video)
Politician Dominik Feri (TOP 09) in a 2016 campaign video for the TOP 09 and Live Brno (Žít Brno) ticket in the elections for the South Moravian Region, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: screen shot from the video)

Czech Television reported on 4 January that a campaign video produced by the TOP 09/ Live Brno (Žít Brno) ticket for use in last year's regional elections has been assessed by the Brno State Prosecutor as not racist, quoting Ivo Hahn, a spokeperson for the prosecutor's office. The video featured the Vice-Governor for the South Moravian Region, Jan Vitula (TOP 09) and the Vice-Mayor of Brno Matěj Hollan (Žít Brno) giving a bath to Dominik Feri (TOP 09), who is a municipal assembly member in another region.

Feri is of African descent and has dark skin. The video features a slogan about "cleaning up" the region.

Hollan and Vitula scrub Feri as he sits in a tub, after which he emerges from the bubbles as a "clean" (and white-skinned) Michal Doležel (Žít Brno). The video ends with the statement "If we can clean up Feri, we'll clean up Hašek too."

The reference is to Michal Hašek, who was the leading candidate for the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) in the elections and the incumbent governor. The Supreme State Prosecutor received a complaint about the video, and its spokesperson, Petr Malý, said it was sent to the Brno State Prosecutor for handling.

Hollan told the Czech News Agency last week that more than one criminal report about the video has been rejected by authorities. Vitula stated previously that he believed it was obvious to anybody that the video was satire and that the context was not racist.

"Dominik Feri himself is the co-author of the video," Vitula said. TOP 09 and Žít Brno designed their campaign as one of opposition to Hašek, a tactic also taken by the ANO movement and the Green Party/Pirate Party ticket.

The elections were ultimately won by the ANO movement, with the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and ČSSD coming in second and third. ANO then formed a regional coalition government with ČSSD, the "Mayors for South Moravia" party (Starosty pro Jižní Moravu) and the TOP 09/Žít Brno ticket.

The condition of the regional coalition was that Hašek not be released from his post as Governor. Hašek did not ask to to be released.

The coalition holds 34 of the regional assembly's 64 seats. ANO won 15, KDU-ČSL and ČSSD 11 each, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) seven, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) six, the Mayors/SPD/SPO group four, TOP 09/Žít Brno four, the Green Party three and the Pirate Party three.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Volby, Žít Brno, Africa, campaign



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