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LN: Voices warn against pro-Russia SPD in Czech security body

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Prague, Nov 1 (CTK) – Experts warn against the influential post of the head of the Czech lower house security committee going to the populist SPD movement in a situation where some of its newly elected MPs openly support Vladimir Putin’s Russia and its aggressive foreign policy, Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Wednesday.

No wonder that Marine Le Pen, the unsuccessful finalist of this year’s French presidential election, supported the SPD (Freedom and Direct Democracy) of Tomio Okamura before the October 20-21 Czech general election. Le Pen’s National Front and the SPD both radically criticise Islam and the migrant crisis, and also share a nationalist and pro-Kremlin approach, LN writes.

Some of the 22 lawmakers the SPD has in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, for example Jaroslav Holik and Monika Jarosova, do not conceal their support for Russia and its policy in their comments on social networks, the paper writes.

It mentions the Czech counter-intelligence service’s (BIS) annual report for 2016 warning against the growing role and activities of Russian intelligence services in the Czech Republic.

Now that posts in the newly elected Chamber of Deputies are being divided, one of the SPD’s priorities is to gain the influential and sensitive seat of the security committee head, LN writes, citing reliable sources.

The same seat has also been sought by the Pirate Party. However, according to LN’s information, the negotiators from the ANO movement, which won the elections and dominates the lower house, prefer giving it to Okamura’s SPD, since the SPD’s role will be crucial for the house’s approval of its own leadership and its subsequent vote of confidence in a new government formed by ANO leader Andrej Babis, the daily writes.

ANO needs Okamura’s support, and the security committee chairmanship may be a suitable motivation to encourage him in this respect, the paper writes.

Frantisek Bublan, former interior minister who is now senator (unaffiliated, elected for the Social Democrats, CSSD), warned that if headed by a SPD lawmaker, the lower house security committee’s operation would be limited.

“It could happen that if an [intelligence] service wanted to tell classified information to the committee, it could be held back by apprehensions. And if the committee asked for a piece of information, from the BIS counter-intelligence, for example, it need not receive it,” Bublan told LN.

In addition, if a SPD representative arrived abroad or received foreign guests in his capacity as Czech lower house security committee head, foreign partners could approach him with caution, aware of the SPD’s “links to Russia and other extremists,” Bublan said.

“This is how you can lose access to information,” he added.

Jakub Janda, head of the Kremlin Watch project dealing with the Russian influence in the Czech Republic, said he considers the SPD at the head of the committee a security threat.

“The SPD is taking over the role of Russia’s Trojan Horse in the Chamber of Deputies from the imploding Communist Party (KSCM),” Janda is quoted as saying.

In the previous lower house, a lawmaker elected for a former party of Okamura headed the defence committee and showed totally incompetent. Now the SPD’s chairmanship might result in paralysing the security committee, because security institutions would shun discussing sensitive issues at its meetings, Janda said.

According to former Czech intelligence service (UZSI) director Karel Randak, Czech politics faces worse security threats than the SPD at the committee’s helm.

“I consider Okamura’s SPD a band that will disintegrate soon. I think President [Milos Zeman’s] advisor Martin Nejedly poses a far higher risk than the SPD in the lower house,” Randak said, referring to Nejedly, former executive of the Lukoil Aviation Czech company.

“After all, it is the Presidential Office that receives classified information, while the lower house security committee has nearly no access to it. Okamura is but a clown who threatens to divide society. If secret services are reasonable, they should not release sensitive information to the security committee [if headed by the SPD],” Randak told LN.

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