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Respekt: Zeman fears active Czech society

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Prague, April 18 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman is thrashing his arms and summoning his allies because he apparently got scared that Czech society might find out that it is in fact easy to face his politics, Erik Tabery writes about Zeman and the Chinese visit in the issue of weekly Respekt out on Monday.

These days, more than ever before, one can hear that democracy has ended in the Czech Republic and that the autocratic Zeman rules the country. The debate has turned into a festival of mourning songs where the one who can see the deepest bottom becomes the winner, Tabery says in his commentary called The Fear of Milos Zeman.

He says a strong reason to feel gloomy were the thanks that Zeman expressed to the police chiefs at Prague Castle last week.

Zeman praised the police for their actions during the visit of President Xi Jinping in March and during a rally he attended last November and said the police prevented mentally ill people from acting. One cannot be surprised by the fact that Zeman labels people with views different from his own “mentally ill,” Tabery writes.

However, it is far more interesting why Zeman hastily organised his unscheduled meeting with the police chiefs, he adds.

During the past two weeks, Zeman experienced something he is not used to and that he certainly does not want to get used to. Though he first humiliated Czech society before the Chinese visit and the police went beyond their powers many times when they prevented people from expressing their views, these actions were criticised in such a broad way that the country has not remembered for a long time, Tabery writes.

Most media (except for the weekly Tyden or TV Barrandov that are owned by the Chinese), lawyers, experts, intellectuals and even politicians criticised the actions of the Presidential Office and the police. Two pop singers even presented their views during the award-giving ceremony of the Angel musical awards that was broadcast by the Czech Television (CT), Tabery writes.

The police chief then apologised to the dean of the Prague Film School (FAMU) for two policemen who visited the school and demanded that they removed the Tibetan flag hoisted on its building, and state attorneys are examining whether other mistakes occurred or not, Tabery says.

It seemed rather amusing to watch the panic that the two singers caused by saying they do not like that Zeman wants to move the country to the East. Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said their statement reminded him of the anti-Charter, an official event in which artists were forced by the former communist authorities to publicly denounce the Charter 77 human rights manifesto in the late 1970s. Jaroslav Plesl, editor-in-chief of the Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), said the singers were “idiots” and he accused them of trying to stage a coup, Tabery writes.

Zeman does not need a confident and active society. At present, it is him who controls the public debate and defines the issues discussed. He knows well that politicians will not wage a big battle with him because they fear that it might harm them. Even a number of media prefers to flatter him, Tabery writes.

It is evident that Zeman is very afraid of the active part of society that he can neither control nor harm. He proved this when he expressed his gratitude to the police for preventing people from expressing critical views against him – he did not praise the police for revealing corrupt people, murderers or thieves, Tabery says.

“Zeman is not a democrat and he will apply any means available to suppress democratic discussion. He has not had enough of the means yet,” Tabery writes.

No end of democracy has come. Like Vaclav Havel (unfortunately) did not change the country´s course definitively to the West by inviting the Dalai Lama and by being on good terms with American presidents, Zeman (fortunately) will not change it to the East by visiting the Russian and Chinese presidents – as long as the Czech people do not let him do so, Tabery writes.

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