Czech Republic: Ultra-right extremists now candidates for the "Heads Up!" bloc
The "Heads Up!" (Hlava vzhůru!) bloc is running in the Czech Republic's early elections with the slogan "We fight for you!", but a more apt slogan for the group might be "We pick fights with you". Two right-wing extremists are among its candidates, as is a politician infamous for her previous racist remarks.
The bloc is the fruit of a long-term collaboration between Jana Bobošíková's "Sovereignty" party (Suverenita) and the right-wing extremist Akce D.O.S.T. group. The appearance of the bloc on the Czech political scene confirms that what was originally the democratic right is now fusing with the ultra-right, as several mayors or MPs who used to be with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) are now running as "Heads Up!" candidates.
The electoral bloc has been supported by former Czech President Václav Klaus. While in office, Klaus was surrounded by right-wing extremists thanks to the efforts of his co-workers Petr Hájek and Ladislav Jakl.
The most active right-wing extremist figure in both Akce D.O.S.T. and Suverenity is Jan Kopal, a self-proclaimed historian and journalist. Kopal is running on behalf of "Heads Up!" in the Liberec Region.
Kopal began his career with the SPR-RSČ (Sdružení pro republiku - Republikánská strana Československa, "Association for the Republic - Republican Party of Czechoslovakia") before leaving that party for the Vlastenecká republikánská strana ("Patriotic Republican Party"). He became that party's chair and then made it possible for neo-Nazis from the National Alliance (Národní aliance) and National Resistance (Národní odpor) to join it.
The neo-Nazis wanted to rename the party the "National Social Bloc" (Národně sociální blok), but the name change was not permitted by the Interior Ministry, so the party instead became the "Right Alternative" (Pravá alternativa). Members of the party have included, for example, Filip Vávra, a leading Czech ideologue of racism, and Holocaust denier Vladimír Skoupý.
It was under Jan Kopal's direction that the neo-Nazi movement first was able to act under the rubric of a political party. Prior to his efforts, neo-Nazis had mostly been active in unregistered initiatives or civic associations.
At a demonstration against Romani people in the town of Most on 15 September 2001, Kopal celebrated Osama Bin Laden. Three days after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001, Kopal said Bin Laden was an example for Czech youth. "Countries like the United States that have committed so much evil in the past, supported international terrorism, and participated in actions like the one in Yugoslavia, which was nothing more than the murder of civilian victims, deserve nothing less than such an attack," Kopal said.
In 2006, Kopal was the leading candidate for the fascisizing National Party (Národní strana) in the Liberec Region during the parliamentary elections. He also founded the National Militia (Národní domobrana) association that same year.
Kopal has been previously prosecuted for spreading false alarms and slandering a judge, but was acquitted. He was also the co-organizer of and participant in a 2011 event during which other right-wing extremists and the most hard-core antisemites in the Czech Republic came together.
The event included a lecture which the Tolerance and Civil Society (Tolerance a občanská společnost) association managed to secretly film. The lecturer was Petr Kalinovský, who at the time was the spokesperson for the militant neo-Nazi movement National Resistance.
Kalinovský had announced and organized an anti-Jewish demonstration on Maiselová Street [in Prague's Jewish Quarter] in January 2003. At the 2011 lecture he spoke on the topic of "The history, causes and development of Czech anti-Jewishness" ("Historie, příčiny a vývoj českého protižidovství").
The lecture was attended by the sadly infamous Ladislav Bátora, a favorite of Klaus and former Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš. Other representatives of the ultra-right scene were also there, such as the racist street fighter Petr Fryč, who was arrested while assaulting a Romani party at the "Modrá hvězda" restaurant in České Budějovice and who co-organized the march through Prague's Jewish Town in 2003 with Kalinovský during which masked neo-Nazis carried lit torches and intimidated passers-by; Erik Sedláček, once the editor of the antisemitic magazine "Poslední generace" (Last Generation), who in 2007 announced a march through Prague's Jewish Town past a synagogue and the Jewish town hall on the anniversary of Kristallnacht (the anti-Jewish pogrom that happened in Germany on 9 and 10 November 1938); and Patrik Vondrák, co-organizer of that march, who also gave a speech in the town of Jihlava paying his respects to the soldiers in the Nazi Wehrmacht and SS units that were declared a criminal Nazi organization after the war. For more information about this lecture meeting, please see http://www.romea.cz/en/news/czech/czech-edmin-adviser-participated-in-lectures-of-extremist-patriotic-front-organization.
Bobošíková fine with approving of terrorism
Jana Bobošíková, chair of the "Heads Up!" voting bloc, is quoted by news server iDNES.cz as saying Kopal's participation as a candidate is no problem. "When someone labels someone else and that person is then stuck with that label their whole lives, I'm against it," Bobošíková said.
The chair said Kopal's candidacy would bother her only if he had been previously active in a movement or party that had been subsequently banned. "I'd be the first to cross him off the candidate list. However, what is important to me is that Mr Kopal is running because he is concerned for the fate of the Czech Republic and wants to take care of it," Bobošíková said.
Kopal's previous approval of a terrorist attack does not bother her. "That's his opinion and it was not found to be a criminal one. I don't have to agree with him, but I don't consider people untouchable because of their opinions. The attack on the Twin Towers was also questioned by the deputy chancellor to the president [Petr Hájek]. Those opinions were not completely unique in society," Bobošíková said. (For more on Hájek's opinions, please see http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2011/05/03/advisor-to-czech-president-believes-bin-laden-was-fabrication-911-a-conspiracy/)
Kopal: I've changed!
Kopal himself insists he would say many things differently today. "I began my political engagement at the age of 15. Everyone develops and educates themselves as they go along. My horizons have expanded. I consider it much more serious when people run for office who were members of the criminal Communist Party of Czechoslovakia," he told iDNES.cz.
Kopal's anti-communism apparently applies only to the previous regime. "Heads Up!" chair Jana Bobošíková has just finished an unsuccessful presidential bid on behalf of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia.
On his blog, Kopal writes about the need for national pride, and in his earlier posts he curses Czech President Václav Havel, now deceased, labeling him a sell-out and a traitor. He also expresses his support for Václav Klaus and the ideas of D.O.S.T., which opposes homosexuality, among other things.
Kopal has been involved in the "Sovereignty" party from its inception in 2011 and currently works as its regional coordinator. "For a long time I have been inclined to support this politics and Václav Klaus. For example, I wrote a paper for a CEP [Center for Economics and Politics, founded by Klaus] symposium about [the 19th-century figures] Viktor Dyk and Karel Kramář. The foreword was written by then-President Klaus and there was no problem with it," Kopal said, adding that he ran in last year's regional elections for the "Sovereignty" party.
In Central Bohemia, the "Heads Up!" candidate is František Červenka, who was a member of the D.O.S.T. delegation that paid Klaus a visit on his 70th birthday in 2011. Czech Television reported on that visit as follows:
"President Václav Klaus received a visit at Prague Castle at the start of June from František Červenka on the occasion of the president's 70th birthday. Červenka was the former head of the radical Národní sjednocení (National Unification) party from 2004-2006 and has participated in several ultra-right demonstrations, standing at the head of the march and speaking through a megaphone to the demonstrators as the main speech-giver.[...] Červenka has called for the creation of a national state several times. 'During that period, these people started this activity through other groups that have since become the main force of the Czech ultra-right,' Ondřej Cakl of the Tolerance and Civil Society association says of Červenka, who is friends with other disciples of the ultra-right such as Ladislav Bátora and Tomáš Vandas, the head of the Workers' Party, which was dissolved by the Supreme Administrative Court. Červenka has also sharply criticized the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union. 'Opposition to the EU is like the main glue that brings together most of the ultra-right groups of this sort of conservative-nationalist character, and there is no doubt he is of that ilk,' comments Jan Chvátal, an expert on extremism."
According to Ondřej Cakl today, both František Červenka and Petr Bahník (another D.O.S.T. protagonist) have previously convened demonstrations attended by people from neo-Nazi groups such as National Resistance. The Antifa.cz website has reported on Červenka in more detail.
Another "Heads Up!" candidate is Liana Janáčková, who is famous for the anti-Romani remarks she made at a public session of the Housing Section of the "Mariánské hory a Hulváky" Municipal Department of Ostrava when she was mayor of the municipality. She tried to explain the situation to the long-term residents of the Bedřiška settlement at that meeting by using these words: "I understand it's not fair to you, but I really don't have anywhere else to put those Gypsies unless I get some dynamite and blow them all up... I don't agree with integrating the Gypsies just anywhere in the district, unfortunately, I'm a racist. We chose Bedřiška and that's where they'll be, behind a high fence, an electric one if need be, I don't care... I'll shout that to the whole world."
In addition to the "Sovereignty" party, the other members of the "Heads Up!" electoral bloc are Akce D.O.S.T., the Right Faction ODS (Pravá frakce ODS), the Democratic Green Party (Demokratická strana zelených) chaired by Olga Zubová, and regional groups such as the South Bohemians (Jihočeši) and Pardubicans (Pardubáci). Bobošíková says Klaus will be supporting the movement before the elections once more, but for the time being it is not clear how.
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