Tabloid is platform for ultra-rightists who want Czech President Klaus to head their new party
Václav Prokůpek, once a member of the neo-Nazi Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS) who then ran as a candidate for its successor, the DSSS, was recently revealed to have authored a hoax about a Romani political party treasurer for the Czech tabloid Parlamentní listy (PL). He is far from the only example of a member of the ultra-right who is working or has worked at PL. From the start, Prokůpek was just one cog in a well-oiled machine at the tabloid.
Other such cogs are the contributors to and editors of PL and its affiliated websites. They are: Radim Panenka, once with the National Party (Národní strana - NS); Adam B. Bartoš, considered by some to be the Czech Republic's most famous anti-Semite; and Lukáš Petřík, who is the liaison between the D.O.S.T. organization, Petr Hájek at the Office of the President of the Czech Republic, and the PL editors.
What is at issue here is what PL and its affiliated websites - EUportal.cz, EUserver.cz, Eportál.cz, EUrabia.cz and Freeglobe.cz - represent. The individuals involved can always be gotten rid of and the editors can always claim to have been fooled by them, as they did recently in the case of Prokůpek. Those behind PL are involved in a long-term project to raise the social prestige of a group of ultra-conservatives, ultra-Catholics, and other right-wing extremists around the D.O.S.T. organization that includes Petr Hájek and Ladislav Jakl at the Office of the President of the Czech Republic, the Patriotic Front organization (Vlastenecká fronta - VF), the magazine "National Idea" (Národní myšlenka - NM), etc.
According to sources close to D.O.S.T., some members of this group aspire to establish their own political party and want to convince current Czech President Václav Klaus to head it. This idea is not as unrealistic as it might seem. Klaus is, through his advisers Hájek and Jakl, in contact with these people and has never shown any concern about those of their opinions that are obviously extremist.
Klaus revealed his stance on this group when he made such great efforts to stand up for [former Czech Education Ministry appointee] Ladislav Bátora. In that case, Klaus was only interested in the opinions of Bátora that were convenient to him and never commented on Bátora's extremist flights of fancy.
PL has also recently published the foreword that Klaus authored for a collection of papers published by the CEP organization entitled "Viktor Dyk - on the 80th anniversary of his death." Here Klaus says the following, among other things:
"Section B presents various supplemental texts... Journalist Jan Kopal reviews Dyk's journalistic output. Historian and political scientist Lukáš Petřík emphasizes Dyk's concept of nation… Radim Panenka of the Slavic Cultural Institute asks whether Viktor Dyk warned against world government."
What is Klaus ignoring in his foreword? For a start, Jan Kopal is one of the most famous right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic. He was chair of the "Patriotic Republican Party" (Vlastenecká republikánská strana - VRS). He made it possible for neo-Nazis from the "National Alliance" (Národní aliance - NA) and "National Resistance" (Národní odpor - NO) to join that party. It is thus "thanks" to Kopal that the neo-Nazi movement got its first opportunity to perform under the rubric of a political party here. Kopal also participated in the anti-Semitic lectures organized by the extremist VF together with Bátora and others (see "Czech EdMin adviser participated in lectures of extremist Patriotic Front organization" at http://www.romea.cz/english/index.php?detail=2007_2396&id=detail).
We are planning to release a detailed article in the future about Lukáš Petřík. For more on Radim Panenka, keep reading.
This particular extremist group has not yet set up its party, but it is running the rather frequently-read tabloid news server PL and its affiliated websites, through which right-wing extremist opinions are becoming the center of attention. Some of the "news reports" published by PL are usually republished by the mainstream media, who seem unaware that by doing so they are providing a media platform to the Czech right-wing extremists at PL and legitimizing them. Let's look a little more closely at one of the actors in this story, Radim Panenka.
PL reporter Radim Panenka was the chair of the NS cell in Hradec Králové and led its 2009 campaign for seats in the European Parliament. An article published by Deniky.cz (in Czech only, http://rychnovsky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/program-narodni-strany-poslouchali-i-duchodci.html) that year features photographs and video footage of him wearing the NS colors. While the NS fell apart due to internal disputes, its legacy is being continued by other small parties, associations and individuals.
The NS is usually referred to as "nationalist", but that term does not exactly describe them. The party cultivated a very extreme national chauvanism and was racist with respect to Romani people and xenophobic with respect to immigrants. NS member Jiří Gaudin published a pamphlet entitled "The Final Solution to the Gypsy Question in the Czech Lands" ("Konečné řešení otázky cikánské v Českých zemích") which the NS took up as an official party document in April 2009. The party's "Final Solution" consisted, among other things, of proposing that strong pressure be put on Romani people through legislation, a media campaign against them, etc., so as to force them to consider emigrating. At the same time, a "repatriation fund" was to be established to cover the costs of their going "back" to India. Gaudin's "oeuvre" is available online today through the anti-Semitic, Nazi website of the "National Education Institute" ("Národně vzdělávací institut").
Panenka confirmed that he identifies with such opinions about Romani people in an online discussion on news server iHned.cz, on 11 April 2007 at 19:09 CET (see the discussion beneath this article: http://zpravy.ihned.cz/?article[comment][ukaz_vsechny]=1&article[comment][art_id]=20869270&p=010000_d&article[id]=20869270epřišel"). Panenka, today a reporter for PL, wrote the following there:
"If they don't like it here they should LEAVE!! If the gypsies have the feeling we are oppressing them here, they should go to India, to their ancestral homeland, no one is keeping them here!! At least the National Party said it to them publicly!"
On 22 March 2008, Radim Panenka was one of the organizers of a demonstration by the NS in front of the National Minority House in Prague 2. After the town hall dispersed the demonstration, those participating in it moved on to Palackého náměstí. There, under a banner reading "The Anti-Discrimination Act discriminates against the majority - ODS betrays right-wing voters", Panenka read the following prepared remarks, as reported by news server iDNES.cz. :
"We are the only ones who have the courage to stand apart from the gray masses and say that it's not just skinheads who have died, murdered by Gypsies and their white friends. We are capable of saying that unfortunately, murderers, rapists, pedophiles, deviants and sadists are to be found among all migrating groups."
Even though the editors of PL are doing their best to erase part of their own history - such as Panenka's name from the list of their reporters, or some of his articles - his work there is still easily traced. Articles by this author are completely in line with PL's editorial policy, which consists of disseminating right-wing extremist political opinions and posturing as part of a long-term campaign against Romani people.
Panenka combined both opinions and posturing in his article "Right-wing Ústí resident describes Gypsy terror and arbitrary policing" (in Czech only at http://www.parlamentnilisty.cz/zpravy/Cikansky-teror-a-policejni-zvule-popsal-pravicak-Ustecko-211180), in which he interviews Kryštof Kindler, another ultra-right representative who is Vice-Chair of the Law and Justice (Právo a spravedlnost - PS) party. In this instructive interview, Kindler says, in addition to many other novel opinions, that society is developing in precisely the wrong direction and is directly contravening the ideals of conservatism and patriotism: "This is arbitrary and unjust. Everyone would do well to form their opinion about our system based on the recent events in North Bohemia. It's total disruption, arbitrary policing, gypsy terror of ordinary citizens, and the Goebbelsian propaganda of the mainstream media on top of it all."
Alexandra Mostýn, the Editor-in-Chief of "Landeszeitung", a newspaper serving the German minority in the Czech Republic, described her recent experience with Radim Panenka to news server Romea.cz as follows:
"He wrote to several representatives of the German minority in the Czech Republic (such as the head of the "Meetings Center" - the Begegnungszentrum) and asked them: 'How do organizations in your native Germany support you?' The impression he made on me was of a person who is full of opinions and knows nothing. I asked him whether he had written the expression 'in your native Germany' out of ignorance or whether it was intentional, but he never responded. Neither did the deputy editor of Parlamentní listy when I asked him by e-mail how it was possible that Radim Panenka was a reporter there."
Panenka also takes a peculiar approach to the facts on his own blog. In his defense of Ladislav Bátora, for example, he wrote the following:
"People don't like the fact that Dr Bátora mentions Vrba's treatise, 'The Adulteration of the Slavs'. For this purpose, another 'expert' has been pulled out of the hat, an employee of the Jewish Museum, who immediately condemned Vrba and his work as clearly anti-Semitic. The representatives of the chosen people evidently don't like him because he refused to go along with Masaryk during his crusade to defend the murderer Hilsner."
Bátora, of course, did not just "mention" the book 'The Adulteration of the Slavs' (Zkáza Slovanů), but praised it as brilliant. There is no doubt that Vrba's treatise is harshly anti-Semitic. Panenka is also part of the Czech Movement for National Unity (České hnutí za národní jednotu), which is led by people from the NS. He is also part of the "No Mosques" (Ne mešitám) initiative, which is openly Islamophobic.
Anyone can evaluate Panenka's media impact for themselves by spending a few moments searching online. He has written many hateful articles, both for PL and for Euportal.cz, which is also part of the business portfolio of the publisher of PL, OUR MEDIA a.s., the ownership structure of which is unknown. Speaking on the Studio STOP program of Czech Radio 6 recently, commentator Petr Holub said: "The Grand Princ company was the owner of OUR MEDIA until the end of 2010. Then other firms showed up in the ownership structure. The controlling interest was held by a company called Colofonia, which of course held it in unregistered stock, so the real owner cannot be identified."
In our next article we will cover other right-wing extremists, both working for PL and for their affiliated websites, as well as their interrelationships and other connections.
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