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Václav Havel: Spreading fascist opinions in one's spare time is not acceptable

Prague, 15.9.2011 13:58, (ROMEA)

In an interview for the Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES, former Czech President Václav Havel has criticized the stance adopted by the Public Affairs party (Věci veřejné - VV) and current Czech President Václav Klaus toward Ladislav Bátora, a former representative of an extremist party now working at the Czech Education Ministry and involved in other activities. Havel made the public statement after six months recovering from illness and said the currently intensifying estrangement between politicians and the Czech public is frustrating.

"I was especially struck by the opinion of Public Affairs that quasi-fascist or quasi-anti-Semitic or similar opinions should be expressed in one's spare time, or during vacation, but not at the office," Havel said, referring to Bátora, who enjoys the support of Klaus and his colleagues. Klaus recently stood up for Bátora once more, saying he is a scapegoat for attacks intended for Klaus personally.

"Yes, that's it exactly: After all, a certain house painter also founded his party in a pub in Munich, not at the workplace. True, here and there someone evidently defies that restriction and the new party is given an audience directly at Prague Castle - which contravenes the Castle's claims that small parties are a danger to democracy," Havel added.

Bátora was previously a candidate for the ultra-nationalist National Party (Národní strana) during the parliamentary elections. A few years ago he also participated in lectures on Czech "anti-Jewishness" organized by the ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front (Vlastenecká fronta). Bátora has also praised an anti-Semitic tract called "Adulteration of the Slavs" (Zkáza Slovanů) in a monograph entitled "Czech Review - My Nation and My Homeland" (Česká revue - Můj národ a má vlast).

In April, Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš (VV) hired Bátora as his economic adviser despite protests by nonprofit organizations and politicians and appointed him head of human resources during the summer break. Bátora then prompted a rift between the governing coalition parties when he insulted the chair of the TOP 09 party, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, on the Facebook social networking site. Under pressure from TOP 09, whose ministers refused to attend cabinet sessions because of Bátora, Dobeš transferred him to the position of deputy director of his own cabinet - which practically meant his promotion.

Dobeš has stood up for Bátora more than once, claiming he performs his work well and is a dutiful Catholic and scholar of the Czech nation. Klaus and his colleagues also defend Bátora.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Jitka Votavová, voj, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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