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VV patrols are similar to the Protective Corps of the dissolved Workers’ Party

Prague, 7.5.2010 2:55, (ROMEA)

Radek John, the chair of the non-parliamentary Public Affairs Party (Věcí veřejných - VV), does not have the right to sign contracts for the party or negotiate on its behalf. According to reporting in the daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD), only Executive Vice-Chair Jaroslav Škárka has that responsibility. The daily Hospodářské noviny (HN) reports that Škárka makes no secret of his provocative opinions, even though he rejects the “extremist” label. Experts consider the VV patrols to be similar to the Protective Corps of the recently dissolved Workers’ Party.

The daily referred to Škárka’s blog, which features a special column of texts on the topic of “Unadaptables”, including articles with headlines such as “How to take a trip to Canada for free” in response to reporting about Romani families who had returned from Canada after requesting visas there. The Green Party has already criticized Škárka’s pieces, charging him with racism. “By no means is this an extremist blog. I do not foster a hostile attitude toward any group,” Škárka said. He is the party’s top candidate in the Plzeň region.

"Mr Škárka has chosen to place a critique of so-called ‘socially inadaptable’ citizens at the center of his electoral rhetoric, an eye-catching, rewarding topic which manages to curry favor with voters rather reliably, even though he is not an expert on the issue and does not provide any constructive or credible solutions,” Radka Steklá, project coordinator for the ROMEA civic association, told news server Romea.cz. Steklá said the country has witnessed such developments before with politicians such as Čunek and Řápková: "It always turns out that such people not only do not solve these problems, they intensify them and create many more. We can only hope people in the Czech Republic will not permit the hidden danger of Škárka’s rhetoric to become reality."

Škárka was involved with VV long before John joined the party. John explained his lack of signature rights to MfD by saying that when he decided to become party chair, he said he would never sign any papers because journalists had already been after him over papers he had signed in the past. Škárka said John has the party "firmly in hand through his authority” and has in fact signed some materials. Party chairs normally bear the responsibility of signing for their parties.

Public opinion polls show that VV has a chance of entering parliament after the upcoming elections. The party recently sent its patrols out into the streets of Prague, prompting the animosity of other parties. The Christian Democrats and Greens have called the patrols unacceptable and reminiscent of Nazi and Communist practices.

Video clips of the patrols at work were posted on the VV web pages for several days. In the clips, a group of young people wearing reflective vests speaks with people whom they label “socially inadaptable” in a park in Prague’s fifth district. The patrol warns their interlocutors that the space around them should be left clean, that they shouldn’t smell of alcohol, and that they should stay away from the children’s playground. The patrols also call over police officers when they find injection needles and other paraphernalia.

"VV places an emphasis on order and security, which is classic for this kind of nationalist politics. Their patrols may be different aesthetically from the Workers’ Party, but the content is the same,” Miroslav Mareš, an expert from Masaryk University in Brno, told the daily HN.

Radka Steklá of ROMEA agrees: "For voters who honor the principles of democracy, humanity and morality, the opinions of Mr Škárka and these pseudo-saviors, the self-appointed VV patrols should be a sign warning that this party has more than one side to it, and some of those sides are not unlike the opinions of the dissolved Workers’ Party.”

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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