Comment text corresponds to the author, not the Anticorruption Endowment. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Anticorruption Endowment.

The corruption of absolute power

15. 1. 2020 , Jan Rozek
In a recent move, the Czech bishops have apparently approved the reporting of alleged sexual abuse crimes within the Church to the police. This change, effectively targeting the victims rather than the perpetrators of abuse, has raised concerns among the general population about the issue and created a wave of solidarity with the victims. Perhaps it was precisely this that frightened Catholic leaders, who then declared that the reports should be filed against ‘perpetrators unknown’ – without the consent of their victims – effectively forcing victims to testify to the police. The result is the same, however: hurt to the victims. We do not think that this callous approach to victims aims to uncover the identity of the perpetrators. We believe that the Church knows some of their names and does nothing about it. We consider its current position to be a tactic to discredit and intimidate victims, or more precisely, to victimise them yet again. This struggle has only one objective: to prevent victims claiming the cost of therapy or other financial compensation from the Church.

Karel Janeček’s New Year’s message

7. 1. 2020 , Karel Janeček
The year 2019 was very complicated. Knotty not just for me personally, but also in terms of political developments at home and throughout the world. The division of society into ‘us’ and ‘them’ continues to deepen globally and locally, and this is exploited and continually worsened by political parasites for the purpose of grasping and maintaining their hold on power. The environmental situation is increasingly unsustainable, and in some parts of the world, such as Delhi, India, one cannot live without suffering major consequences for one’s health. In his double conflict of interest (ownership of media and Agrofert), the Czech prime minister is perhaps a high achiever in a worldwide comparison, but the abuse of power in certain places in the world is worse by an order of magnitude. The growing power and monopolistic tendencies of multinational corporations pose an economic threat. The automatic collection of detailed information about everyone on social networks and beyond may threaten personal freedom.

A marketing contract for my friend, and my enemy gets hit with a PR campaign

16. 12. 2019 , Dan Urbánek
Last week the media and political waters became agitated by a series of outstanding articles published on the Aktuálně website detailing the connections between Home Credit, the PR agency C&B, several politicians and a news website. These will probably not be the last articles on the matter, as much more could be written about it. For example, one might note that the C&B people have been working not just for PPF, Václav Klaus Jr of the Trikolóra party and Mr Nacher of the Prague branch of ANO. Public records indicate that companies of the C&B owners and directors, Tomáš Jirsa and Tomáš Sazima, worked for public money on behalf of other politicians, and are currently employed by a number of Prague’s public corporations.

The 2019 Prizes for Courage

9. 12. 2019 , Karel Škácha
Today, on International Anti-Corruption Day, we award our 2019 Prizes for Courage. The occasion is all the more agreeable this year because there are more women than men among the winners. If only it were so in politics too! However, corruption affects everyone – men and women – regardless of their profession, property or opinion. We can turn this fact to our advantage, and let it help us focus on particular topics – and that is what we tried to do in awarding this year’s prizes. We have chosen people and associations from throughout the Czech Republic, who are not afraid to call out sharp practices and clientelism – sometimes to their own detriment. We recognise activities that change people’s thinking, especially in local politics. Local associations help society to conduct a transparent dialogue and to make better use of public resources.

The ideology of the Trautenberks

2. 12. 2019 , Boris Cvek
The communists drummed it into us that rich people were like the Trautenberks from the Fairy-tale at Krkonoše Mountains: they got their property God knows how, certainly not by their own industry and ingenuity; rather, they were stupid and lazy, harming those around them and treating their servants like animals. What is more, they were foreigners: Germans. This was truly an education in hatred and envy. I am almost certain that, if someone behaved like a Trautenberk from that fairy-tale, he would be hated by people in developed Western countries too. The mendaciousness of the communists and the lies they drummed into our heads consists precisely in this: a rich person is not necessarily a lazy and dangerous parasite. A rich person – as we wished to hope in the early 1990s – is a person who has become rich thanks to their abilities, and hence should not elicit envy. By contrast, such a person cares about honesty, stands up for the weak and has an understanding for the unsuccessful. Like an athlete who honestly wins an Olympic race, s/he does not despise the weaker competitors, the rules of fair play, or rules in general.

Let’s go up to Letná and beyond!

25. 11. 2019 , Benjamin Roll
Our country faces many serious challenges: social issues, the need for education reform, environmental problems, a crisis of values, divisions in society, accelerating globalisation, our relationship with Europe, disputes among superpowers, the stirring up of nationalist moods and much more. Our politicians should address all of this. Instead, the affairs of our prime minister distract attention from preparations for the future. Andrej Babiš boasts that he is the only politician to have a vision. Yet he makes no bones about claiming that he does not care about what happens in 2050. From the beginning of his stint in politics, he has posed as “one of the people”, pretending that the employees of his ANO (Akce Nespokojených Občanů, or Action of Dissatisfied Citizens, but note that the word “ano” means “yes” in English) are a civic movement, but when there were anti-Babiš demonstrations, he did not hesitate to put forward the lie that the truly dissatisfied citizens who rallied against him were being paid for their attendance at the demonstrations.

Defend ourselves from the inflow of dirty money

19. 11. 2019 , Václav Drozd
The celebrations and commemorations of the end of the communist regime were full of paradoxes, as indeed have been the thirty years of development since November 1989. The most influential Czech enforcement officer, Robert Runták, celebrated the Velvet Revolution this year by opening Telegraph, a private gallery and cultural centre in Olomouc. The buildings of a former telephone and telegraph factory now host his art collection, bought with money Runták made during the years he headed the Přerov enforcement office – the largest in the country – which is currently pursuing proceedings against about 200,000 people. Runták’s career was described by Apolena Rychlíková in a piece published in Alarm before the local elections which Runták contested on the ticket of the party spOLečně (Together). The Olomouc entrepreneur is considered one of the architects of, and most important lobbyist for, the system of enforcement that has sucked nearly 900,000 people, including 3,500 children, into a spiral of debt.

11. 11. 2019 ,

Habit is second nature

4. 11. 2019 , Marie Štefanidesová
Recently, ‘manels’ – discussion panels in which men are given space at the expense of women – have been increasingly talked about in our country. The defence of their organisers is simple: in some disciplines, women are represented either sporadically or not at all. And I’m leaving aside the situations where women are approached but frequently refuse to participate for reasons of gender discrimination. Connected with this topic is another important phenomenon. For myself I’ve called it ‘habitual corruption’. It is common. We all do it and it often helps us in our lives. Do you need to get the washing machine fixed, a text translated, a dress made? You’ll go to someone with whose work you were happy in the past, or follow the recommendations of others. This ensures reliability and quality, most of the time.