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Post-Soviet Politics
Czechs Boo Their President for Soft Stance on Putin

At the unveiling of a memorial commemorating the Velvet Revolution in Prague, protesters booed and threw food at Czech President Miloš Zeman. Zeman has come under fire for his soft, even warm, stance on Putin’s actions in Ukraine, and for downplaying the seriousness of the November 1989 police brutality which sparked the Revolution 25 years ago. The Wall Street Journal reports on the embattled president:

The anti-Zeman protesters cheered Mr. Gauck and other visiting presidents when they spoke at the event, but they made Mr. Zeman’s speech barely audible.

Several times the crowd applauded Poland’s Bronislaw Komorowski and Slovakia’s Andrej Kiska when they spoke in favor of Ukraine in its fight against separatists. The protesters also heeded a request by Hungary’s leader Janos Ader to hold a minute of silence to remember all victims of communist repressions in the former Soviet bloc.

Nevertheless most protesters raised symbolic red cards—a penalty sign in many sports—above their heads to show their anger with Mr. Zeman. The public’s discord with the Czech leader, elected in early 2013, started to grow two weeks ago when he used vulgar words in a live radio interview to describe members of the anti-Kremlin Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

Even ahead of Monday’s protests, Mr. Zeman also drew criticism from senior local politicians, including ex-President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Czechs have made it clear: After 25 years, they remember what a Kremlin stooge looks like, and they feel nothing but disgust for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the cheap, ugly propaganda tricks with which Putin’s apologists try to cover his crimes.

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  • Gene

    I have nothing to add to this apart from surprise that the Czechs (my people!) would be led by such a person in the first place, but what I really want to do is applaud the writer for using “stooge.” An underappreciated word.

  • Dan Greene

    This article provides no explanation whatsoever of the dynamic that it claims to be about.

    What exactly is the evidence that Zeman is a “Kremlin stooge?” He was expelled from the Czchoslovak Communist Party in 1970 for opposition to the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring. He was dismissed again in 1989 for anti-regime articles. In April of this year, he said, “The moment Russia decides to widen its territorial expansion to the eastern part of Ukraine, that is where the fun ends. There I would plead not only for the strictest EU sanctions, but even for military readiness of the North Atlantic Alliance, like for example NATO forces entering Ukrainian territory.”

    I see this story about Zeman being egged running around the media, but nowhere do I see a concrete explanation of why this happened. The government of PM Bohuslav Sobotka (who has charge of foreign affairs under the Czech constitution) has been averse to some of the sanctions levied on Russia, but this does not explain the violence against the person of the Czech president.

    I see that Zeman has made some criticisms of Madeleine Albright in the past, opposed the bombing of Serbia in 1999 and the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. This is starting to remind me of Danny the Red’s vicious attacks on Vaclav Klaus during his presidency. Somehow, Zeman has fallen afoul of the neoconservative network. One wonders about the origin of the “crowd” that attacked Zeman. There is definitely something fishy going on here. Clearly, Zeman is perceived by some power brokers as a weak link in the iron chain they are attempting to draw around Putin. Is he perceived to have “Slavophile” tendencies unhelpful to the New World Order? There is obviously key information missing from this sad excuse for an article. The message in this piece is meant to rationalize the attack on the Czech president which is par for the course for the neocon stooges at TAI. But it would be interesting to get to the bottom of whatever game is being played here.

    • Dan Greene

      As I look at more information on this issue, it seems that a group of Prague malcontents, who probably do not represent the majority of Czech opinion, were the motive force behind the attack on Zeman. The last poll gave Zeman a 64% approval rating among Czechs. And apparently, Zeman’s support comes from the countryside and areas away from Prague.

      But we still need to know more about the affiliation and goals of those violently protesting against the Czech president.

  • Corlyss

    I hope that the Czechs bought lots and lots of guns after their Velvet Revolution and that they have NOT wasted any time in building up their military. NATO won’t be there for them. America won’t be there for them. They are on their own.

    • Dan Greene

      Why do you say that?

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