‘Ukraine has a terrorist government’: A new political force in an EU state wants the bloc to change its stance towards Kiev
Bradley Blankenship, RT, September 30, 2023 —
On September 16, around 10,000 protesters descended on Prague’s Wenceslas Square to demand a change to their government’s foreign policy. These protests were led by a group called Pravo Respekt Odbornost (Law Respect Expertise; PRO), which the Western mainstream media describes as pro-Russian and anti-Western.
Jindrich Rajchl, a Czech attorney inspired by the political lines of American conservatives Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, is the leader of the group. While some may see Rajchl’s movement as completely out of touch with the country’s traditional politics, he believes that he’s tapped into something much more critical to Prague’s national mythos: rejecting foreign domination.
PRO and its supporters see the current Czech government as traitors who are controlled primarily from Washington and Brussels. And even though the political environment in the country has been turbulent over the past several years, a situation which the current goverment was meant to resolve, Rajchl and PRO believe that a national-conservative platform is the only thing that will rein in out-of-control excesses emanating from foreign powers.
Political situation in the Czech Republic
The current Czech government is led by a three-party center-right coalition called SPOLU (‘Together’), which is composed of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and TOP 09. These also have an agreement with the Pirate Party and the Mayors and Independents. It rode into power on a strong pro-Western, anti-corruption platform after the 2021 parliamentary elections.
That election was, first and foremost, a referendum on the leadership of former prime minister Andrej Babis, who held this post from 2017 until his eventual defeat, and served before that as finance minister from 2014. He was the spitting image of the prototypical Eastern European ‘oligarch’ before seeking public office, and is one of Europe’s richest people, according to Forbes, with an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion.
Throughout his entire tenure as prime minister, allegations of impropriety dogged him, sparking widespread mobilization within civil society. He was caught up in an EU subsidy fraud case, for which he was charged criminally and investigated by Brussels; he allegedly forcibly disappeared his own son; and he was mentioned in the Pandora Papers. It is against the backdrop of this intense public scrutiny for Babis and his left-wing coalition, which was composed of his center-left populist ANO (‘Yes’) party and the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), with a tentative agreement with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), that the Czech left was obliterated.
Babis’ alleged corruption was tied not only to his person but also to left-wing politics and its basic positions in general. While Babis was a moderate on foreign policy and supported French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for ‘strategic autonomy,’ the PM was instead cast as pro-China and pro-Russia for not buying all-in to Brussels’ political agenda. Likewise, the junior parties of the coalition – the CSSD and KSCM – were so damaged by their affiliation with Babis that neither qualified for any seats in the current Chamber of Deputies, and CSSD has only one senator, marking the first time that both houses of parliament have been without a communist party representative.
This strong mandate for the pro-Western Czech right is led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the leader of the very party that helped impose Washington’s ‘shock therapy’ on Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic during the 1990s. It has been given carte blanche to buy into Washington’s imperial project in Ukraine – and in the Czech Republic itself.
The current Czech parliament ratified a new defense treaty with the United States that will make it easier for Washington to deploy troops on Czech soil – a move that critics see as a violation of Czech sovereignty. Defense Minister Jana Cernochova and the ruling coalition have even expressed a desire to host a US military base in their country. Given the Czech Republic’s experience with foreign occupiers, including Nazi Germany during the Second World War and the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, such a move would betray the country’s fundamental ideals.
With the death of the left comes an opportunity for the right
Enter a Czech lawyer named Jindrich Rajchl, who leads the emerging political party, PRO. The views of Rajchl and his party, in contrast to the positions of the ruling coalition, may seem out of step with the country’s typical view. For example, here’s what he said at September’s rally:
“We made another step today to move out of the way the rock that is the government of Mr. [Prime Minister Petr] Fiala,” Rajchl told demonstrators.
“They are agents of foreign powers, people who fulfill orders, ordinary puppets. And I do not want a puppet government anymore,” he said, calling on Prague to veto Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO.
PRO’s position – a national-conservative-based populist backlash against the decadence of Western liberalism – seems to be a welcome alternative to many disaffected Czechs, many of whom saw Fiala and his Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the party of the country’s first president, Vaclav Havel, as a return to normalcy.
They also want to broadly slash spending on social services, such as education, and pass the burden onto students. For example, PRO wishes to see university tuition introduced – which, to be sure, would be far less than in places such as the United States.
While PRO is an up-and-coming group and has yet to participate in an election, Rajchl told RT in a profile published in May that he is optimistic about his party’s odds. According to internal polling, he said his party was just over the minimum 5% threshold needed to enter parliament in the 2025 election. That means that, if the elections were held then, Rajchl would be an MP, a position he hopes to wield to form an alliance with other parties, such as the right-wing party Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) or potentially Andrej Babis’ ANO, which is topping polls. Politico’s latest tracker, however, has PRO at only 2% – below the threshold – and ANO on top with 34%.
But Rajchl hopes to run for the European Parliament in June 2024, primarily so he can take on Brussels directly.
Economy or war?
The economic situation in the Czech Republic may give PRO a chance for success. In the years following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, prominent international credit agencies like Moody’s have downgraded the Czech Republic’s credit rating due to substantial budget deficits. Before this development, the Czech Republic boasted one of Europe’s, if not the world’s, most favorable public finance outlooks.
Inflation has rocked the Czech economy for several years. According to the Czech Statistical Office, Czechs spent 14% more last year than the year before but, in real terms, spending fell by over 1%. Energy prices were primarily responsible, soaring by 15.5% while fuel increased by 33.5%.
The general outlook for the working class has also been abysmal – and policymakers have done little to support them. Analysis by PAQ Research published in December 2022, based on data from the Czech Statistical Office (CSU), projected that up to 30% of Czech households would fall into poverty this year. Despite this forecast, the ruling coalition still moved forward with an austerity package that would have an outsized effect on average people.
A current austerity initiative making its way through the Czech Republic is set to reduce spending by roughly 94 billion Czech crowns ($4.4 billion) in 2024, followed by an additional 150 billion in 2025 ($6.9 billion). This plan aims to achieve these cuts through various measures, including raising the retirement age, slightly increasing corporate and real estate taxes, and augmenting the current alcohol tax. Furthermore, it will entail workforce reductions within the public sector or corresponding wage adjustments, and it will also significantly raise taxes on the middle class, students, parents, and others.
Numerous experts have shared their views in the media, suggesting that the government’s adoption of an austerity plan became an unavoidable necessity. But unions and opposition political parties have staunchly disagreed, spawning massive protests over the past year.
At the same time, the Fiala goverment has sent weapons and aid hand over fist to Ukraine. In February alone, the goverment approved one weapons shipment worth an estimated 10 billion crowns ($430.74 million). The total amount of aid sent to Ukraine is believed to be around 20 billion crowns ($861.55 million), which constitutes a significant portion of the amount the government wants to cut with its austerity plan.
PRO is tying the Czech Republic’s economic and financial woes to Ukraine aid, and believes that out-of-control spending is hurting the country.
Ukrainian bone of contention
To elaborate on these topics and more, RT caught up with Rajchl again to learn more about PRO’s foreign policy agenda, following the aforementioned profile on him from May. A few developments have happened in Europe since the last conversation, including a public falling out between Poland and Ukraine over grain. Warsaw has unilaterally blocked agricultural imports from Kiev, which had flooded the European market and, Polish leaders say, hurt local farmers. This occurred after an EU-wide ban expired.
When asked about the latest spat between Ukraine and Poland, Rajchl said he shares the same views; however, he insisted that he had always held this position.
“I’ve been saying this since last year: In the end, it’s about the black hole that’s taking European and US money, and there’s huge corruption. The money isn’t used to help the Ukrainian oligarchs. And everyone has understood that the policy of President Zelensky is failing. I’m glad that the Polish government finally found this out. I hope the Czech government will too, but I don’t think they will. They put all their political capital into helping Ukraine and if they admitted that they were wrong, they would be recalled and would have to resign,” Rajchl said.
He added: “The Ukrainian government is a terrorist government. [With regard to] the rocket that crossed into Poland, it’s clear that this was a Ukrainian rocket – not a Russian rocket. Zelensky blamed Russia from the very beginning, although he knew from the very beginning it was his own rocket. He fired the rocket against the EU as a false-flag operation to blame Putin and get more help from the West, which is a form of blackmail. This regime is a criminal regime, Zelensky is a terrorist and should be tried at The Hague.”
Indeed, just after Rajchl’s conversation with RT, Polish investigators reportedly reached the conclusion that the rockets that hit the Polish border village of Przewodow must have been of Ukrainian origin, according to a Polish media report.
What else do they believe in?
Last year, at the height of Europe’s inflation crisis, PRO held a similar rally that attracted tens of thousands of people. During those protests, the group blasted the inflation that was crippling the working class and demanded the government’s resignation. Today, according to the latest Morning Consult tracker of world leaders, Fiala’s government has a dismal 20% approval rating.
Commenting on this, Rajchl said, “It’s a well-deserved place because he’s the worst leader in the world right now, of all of the leaders I know. He doesn’t care about his own people. The economic situation is mostly contributing to this; Fiala is not doing anything to help the Czech people, and they know it. He’s just taking orders from the EU, from the US, from Kiev, but he’s not doing anything for ordinary Czech people.”
The PRO leader also pointed out the absurdity of Czech officials calling on Europe and the West to prepare for nuclear conflict with Russia. “We don’t need to prepare [for this]; we need to do everything in our power to avoid nuclear conflict with anybody in the world.
“I don’t want to have any enemies in the world. I am reminded of a speech by John F. Kennedy, when he said, ‘We don’t want to have Pax Americana that is forced by American weapons.’ We need to change the perception of the world so that there won’t be friends and foes, but simply neighbors that are just living on the same planet. I don’t see Russia as a threat; I believe the much bigger threat is the Western powers that are dragging us into this stupid conflict,” Rajchl said about his feelings regarding Russia.
The organizer’s position of establishing equal partnerships and being against hegemony sounded similar to the words of some world leaders at the latest BRICS summit in South Africa. Rajchl said he would be open to seeing Prague join BRICS+, perhaps becoming the first EU member state to be incorporated into that emerging bloc.
In his profile for RT in May, he stressed that he was not anti-American or anti-NATO. However, the protest had a much more radical rhetorical angle this time around. Rajchl stressed that he was not against Washington but rather the current leadership of President Joe Biden.
“I believe Donald Trump is the right leader for the United States,” he said, “Biden is just a puppet. There are people behind the current pushing for war, pushing for the woke agenda, the LGBTQ, the Green New Deal, and all these crazy agendas that are poisoning the world and the minds of our children, which I see as the biggest threat to the world and Europe,” he said.
“The woke agenda,” Rajchl stressed, “is the biggest threat to Western civilization. Look at the United States: Its cities are full of people addicted to fentanyl. Western Europe is full of migrants from Muslim countries, which threatens our security.”
The lawyer-turned-politician plans to run for the European Parliament in the country’s upcoming election in June 2024. Rajchl said he wants to “explore and research all of the things that happened during Covid” because his movement is convinced that there were “a lot of crimes that have been committed by members of the European Commission,” and he also wants to form a “national-conservative platform” to stand up against Brussels’ overreach. While not specific on the numbers, the organizer said he was optimistic about his odds of securing an MEP seat, according to internal polling.