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Fedor Gál: Czech President should not go to Moscow

21.3.2015 20:06, (ROMEA)
Fedor Gál (left) and the late Romani artist Rudolf Dzurko (right) are shown here in a clip from the documentary film cycle
Fedor Gál (left) and the late Romani artist Rudolf Dzurko (right) are shown here in a clip from the documentary film cycle "Stories for Natálka" (Příběhy pro Natálku). (Photo: Romea.cz archive)

In an interview for the Czech News Agency, Slovak sociologist and former dissident Fedor Gál, who celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday, said that nostalgic recollections of the communist era 25 years after the fall of the regime are incomprehensible to him. The founding member of the "Public against Violence" movement said he also does not understand why people hate the politicians them themselves elect.  

Gál did not avoid criticizing politicians himself, though. In the interview he gave a negative assessment of the behavior of Czech President Miloš Zeman and that of Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, the leader of the ANO movement and the owner of Agrofert.    

"The paradox of these times is that there have never been so many chances to live a full life as there are now, and at the same time there have never been so many people who are just fed up," said Gál. He went on to add that he does not understand the sentiment of that part of society that sentimentally recalls the communist times and is not satisfied with democratic politicians.    

"They hate the people they themselves have chosen in free elections," Gál said. In his view this is because many people's expectations regarding their material well-being exceed their options for attaining that well-being, which means they are disappointed.

Gál, who has long supported pro-Western Ukrainian activists, disagrees with the planned trip by Czech President Zeman to Moscow to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Many politicians, most of them in the opposition, have protested the planned trip in recent days.

Zeman, in Gál's view, has been distorting what is happening in Ukraine. "He himself has lied on the matter of Russian aggression in Ukraine and he lied at a time when it was already evident that Russian soldiers were there," the sociologist said.

Gál also believes that Zeman is not serving as President of the "lower 10 million", as he declared he would during his presidential campaign. "He likes to say that he has made it to the summit of Mount Everest by being elected President. That's a really bad metaphor. He's not supposed to be there to brag of his mountain-climbing skills, he's supposed to be there to serve the interests of the citizens of this country," Gál said.

Many people feel Zeman has betrayed their interests, according to the former dissident. He also views Babiš as another negative phenomenon on the current political scene.

"[Babiš] is in an enormous conflict of interest. He has an unclear past with respect to where his assets came from and his engagement in the secret police. That in and of itself would disqualify him from playing the role of a leading politician in any normal democratic regime," said Gál.

He also warned of the Finance Minister's recent criticism of public broadcaster Czech Television. "When [Babiš] says something, it's not just a critical voice. It's a direct blow to the solar plexus. They could destroy that television station. Critical voices are in order, but powerful interventions are something else," he said.

Fedor Gál was born on 20 March 1945 in the ghetto of Terezín. He first studied chemistry before studying sociology during the second half of the 1970s.

He founded the "Public against Violence" movement, which contributed to the fall of communism. After 1989 he began to work as a college educator.

Gál was a co-founder of the private TV NOVA television station. Today he runs the G plus G publishing house with his son.

He also has dedicated himself to producing documentary films. His most recent film, "Remote Closeness" (Vzdálená blízká) is about death and growing old; it will premiere on 26 March at the Lucerna Cinema in Prague.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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demokracie, Komunismus, Terezín, Zeman



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