Demonstration against the Czech Govt this Saturday is more like a disinformation election rally by pro-Kremlin, xenophobic groups
The organizers and supporters of the demonstration scheduled for 3 September in Prague on Wenceslas Square are doing their best to encourage Romani community members in different groups on Facebook to turn out for the event. Who is actually behind this planned protest?
What kinds of entities are organizing the demonstration? News server Romea.cz has investigated the announced speakers and their supporters in detail.
"Alliance of National Forces", "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD), Tricolor and support from Tomáš Vandas
Among the announced speakers and supporters of the upcoming demonstration are leading faces from the Czech Republic's disinformation scene, which is also pro-Kremlin and xenophobic. It is being supported, for example, by Tomáš Vandas, chair of the "Workers' Social Justice Party" (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS); by Czech MP Jaroslav Foldyna (SPD); by the chair of the "Alliance of National Forces", Vladimíra Vítová; by the chair of Tricolor, Zuzana Majerová Zahradníková; and by Hynek Blažko and Jiří Kobza of the SPD.
"It's time to tell the crooks and thieves ENOUGH! I'll be there too," Vandas has posted to Facebook, thereby confirming the information he announced from the stage during a previous demonstration of this kind on the Old Town Square in Prague.
Vandas heads the anti-Romani DSSS, the successor to the court-dissolved Dělnická strana (Workers' Party), which was a neo-Nazi entity. Both that party and Vandas personally were behind the attempted pogrom against Romani people living at the Janov housing estate in Litvínov on 17 November 2008.
On that occasion, hundreds of neo-Nazis from all over the country converged on Litvínov and, with support from local non-Romani residents, demonstrated against the Romani ones. During their march on the Janov housing estate the neo-Nazis clashed with police who, using tear gas and water cannon, managed to prevent what apparently would have been the biggest anti-Romani pogrom in the contemporary history of the Czech Republic had they succeeded.
A slogan inspired by Donald Trump
The demonstration on 3 September 2022 is aimed against the current Government and is being advertised with the slogan "Czech Republic First" (Česká republika na 1. místě). That is quite similar to Donald Trump's slogan in the USA, "America First".
In other countries, adapted forms of this slogan are being used by the extreme right, by populists, and by political entities that advocate against receiving refugees or against equal treatment for national minorities. According to the lineup of the speakers for the Prague demonstration, it is clear it will be more of an election rally for the various parties that call themselves "patriotic" and not too long ago were demonstrating against the Government measures to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading, and before that, were attacking the reception of refugees in 2015 - recently they have been concentrating on disseminating pro-Kremlin propaganda and attacking refugees from Ukraine.
Anti-Roma Senator Doubrava and the PRO! movement, which favors the Kremlin
At least four speakers slated to appear at the demonstration are from the newly-created PRO! movement, which is clearly oriented in favor of the Kremlin. They are Jana Zwyrtek Hamplová, Ivan Noveský, Jindřich Rajchl and Petra Rédová.
News server Romea.cz reported on Rédová in association with her appearance in a video against the COVID-19 vaccines that went viral on social media and presented her as a "nurse from a Brno ICU". In that video, she alleged that vaccinations do not work and that on the contrary they create mutations of the virus responsible for COVID-19, which is an old piece of disinformation that has been debunked.
Rédová had also never worked for any Brno hospital, as Romea.cz reported at the time. It is also interesting to note that the anti-Roma Senator Jaroslav Doubrava is supporting the PRO! movement - he will not be running for re-election but is supporting a candidate from that movement as his successor.
A supporter of the antisemite Adam B. Bartoš
Another interesting person among the scheduled speakers is the chair of the nationalist group "Alliance of National Forces", Vladimíra Vítová - in an interview last year for the online DVTV program, she refused to distance herself from an anti-Jewish article published by Adam B. Bartoš, the top candidate on her party's list in the Ústecký Region. The interviewer ended the interview, which was held in the runup to elections, earlier than scheduled because of her refusal to distance herself.
Bartoš today is the chair of "National Democracy" (ND), which the Czech Interior Ministry regularly classifies as an extremist organization. ND sued for defamation over that characterization of its politics but was unable to convince the courts that the label is not accurate.
Czech MP Foldyna, a supporter of the demonstration, mocks the Holocaust and its Romani victims
The organizers have also listed Jaroslav Foldyna, an SPD member, among those supporting the demonstration. Foldyna was once a member of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) but broke with them in 2020 and currently is an MP for the SPD.
Foldyna has long inveighed against Romani people. In 2019, during the debate program "You Have the Floor" (Máte slovo) on public broadcaster Czech Television, he belittled and insulted the Romani victims of the Holocaust more than once.
The MP has also mocked the planned new memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma at Lety u Písku and falsely alleged its cost would run into the billions of crowns. "We're buying out a pig farm and we will build a mausoleum that will cost billions there," he argued, adding that if the state can afford such a project it could also afford to provide free lunch to all schoolchildren, including those from families of means.
"Let's do our bottle cap collecting for the Afghanistan mission and lets pay for children's lunches instead, because they are the future of this state, not a mausoleum at a pig farm or the Afghanistan mission," the MP said during the debate. Moderator Michaela Jílková stopped him when he began insulting Holocaust victims of Romani origin.
"I wouldn't bring that up at this juncture, show some respect," the moderator reacted. "What's to respect?" said Foldyna, who was a ČSSD vice-chair at the time, and who proceeded to persist with his belittling and mocking of Holocaust victims of Romani origin, thereby continuing the line of reasoning he had begun in 2017 when he attacked news server Romea.cz in a vulgar way and asserted that Romani people abuse welfare.
According to commentator Jiří X. Doležal of news server Forum 24, protests of this type are targeting frustrated, hateful individuals and could result in violence just like the domestic terrorist attack committed on the U.S. Capitol building on 6 January 2021. For the police, in his view, the upcoming protest will be one of the riskiest events in terms of clashes and violence since the International Monetary Fund meeting in Prague in September 2000 and the counter-demonstrations against it.
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