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October 27, 2021



Czech prosecutor reviewing local election slogan referencing "pests" and "poison"

17.2.2019 11:19
The hateful flier distributed by the group called
The hateful flier distributed by the group called "Open Town Hall - Most" (Otevřená radnice Most) during its campaign prior to the local and Senate elections in 2018.

News server reports that the Czech prosecutor has begun reviewing the scandal of the campaign conducted by the "Open Town Hall Most" (Otevřená radnice Most) movement in October 2018 on suspicion of their slogans having a possible racist subtext. Police had closed the matter as a misdemeanor and handed it over to the town hall to be addressed.

The prosecutor has now asked that the case be returned to that office for review. The movement did not ultimately win any seats on the local assembly, but became "famous" for its slogan, "Poison alone is not strong enough for these pests."

A candidate for the movement posted those materials to Facebook with the tagline "Zero tolerance for inadaptables". Representatives of the movement defended themselves at the time by alleging that the slogan referred to the over-reproduction of bugs or rats in Most and that its association with the other slogan about "inadaptables" was an unfortunate accident.

Police closed the matter after concluding that "while it is possible to understand the poster at issue as a composite aimed against Romani people, the given case is not a specific call for hatred against any group, nor is it a call for activity or for restriction of a group's rights and freedoms." The prosecutor may decide to return the matter to police for further investigation.

The lead candidate for the movement in the autumn elections, Karel Novotný, has refused to comment on this latest development in the case, claiming to have no time. Novotný previously drew attention to himself with his remark on social networks that "gypsies are like jellyfish - poisonous and useless."

At the time he was working as Deputy Industry and Trade Minister and was a member of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD). As a result of posting that remark, Novotný left the ČSSD.

It should be recalled that back in 2010, the ČSSD cell in Most used slogans on their billboards such as "Why should I regret being in the majority in my own homeland? One state, one set of rules!"

Novotný signed off on that campaign as well when he was the leading candidate for the ČSSD in those local elections. Now Romani residents of the Chanov housing estate in Most have filed official complaints about all of the antigypsyist slogans used during the 2018 local elections.

The four local Romani residents were also bothered slogans used by the "Association of Most Residents for Most" (Sdružení Mostečané Mostu), which, for example, promised to build a village "for the riff-raff" or used the slogan "Inadaptables don't need to be addressed, they need a final solution". The Czech courts have rejected the residents' complaints, in part because Czech electoral law is not designed to address such issues.

The residents are now appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. News server previously reported that Pavel Pöschl, a candidate for "Open Town Hall Most", has since become the representative of the organization Čonoro, which describes itself as aiding Romani people.

Pöschl told the media in February 2019 that the group is cooperating with the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion. The director of the Agency then distanced it from Čonoro and Pöschl and told the media that the former candidate's claims of collaboration with the Agency are untrue.

agw, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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