Czech Radio moderator poses for photo with right-wing extremist, but public broadcaster says the rules were not broken
Czech news server Deník N reports that public broadcaster Czech Radio, according to its spokesperson, has no plans to deal with a photograph in which Czech Radio moderator Lubomír Xaver Veselý is posing together with the chair of the ultra-right Workers Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), Tomáš Vandas. That is despite the fact that Czech Radio has strict rules about the behavior of staff in the runup to elections that forbid them from contributing to the promotion of candidates or parties that are running.
Veselý moderates a regional Czech Radio program called "Xaver and Guest" (Xaver a host) and posted with the DSSS chair on Saturday, 15 August at a Czech nationalist reunion in the Central Bohemian town of Příčovy. The politician, whose party is fielding candidates this autumn in 11 regions, then bragged about the photo both on his personal social media profile and the party profile.
The photo sparked criticism especially because Veselý is also on the board of public broadcaster Czech Television. The predecessor party to the DSSS, the Workers Party (DS), also chaired by Vandas, was dissolved by the Czech Supreme Administrative Court in 2010.
The court justified its decision to dissolve the party by explaining that the party was carrying on the totalitarian ideology of Nazi Germany and was purposefully inciting ethnic and racial intolerance and violence. Czech Television reporter Jakub Szantó posted the following rhetorical question to Facebook when the photo of Vandas and Veselý was published: "In what normal country does a person entrusted with guarding the democratic independence of the public broadcast media hang out with a neo-Nazi in public?"
On the day prior to the photograph being taken, the campaign season rules had begun to apply at Czech Radio for all employees and external coworkers. Those rules expressly forbid joining campaigns in any way.
"Employees and coworkers are not allowed to contribute to any promotion of entities, candidates, politicians or registered third parties, they are not allowed to endanger the impartiality and credibility of Czech Radio or to harm or threaten its good reputation, and they are obligated to refrain from any appearances in support of entities, candidates, politicians or registered third parties," Czech Radio General Director René Zavoral instructed the staff, among other things. However, according to the Czech Radio spokesperson, the moderator did not break the rules by posing for this photograph together with the chair of a party running candidates this fall.
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