Prague - Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has landed himself in trouble once again, courtesy of his trademark firebrand remarks. A group of nationalists decided to sue him for what they consider intolerably offensive statements about the Czech nation.
In an interview for Hospodářské noviny (HN) daily, Topolánek said that "the Czechs usually see everything in negative light and when something happens, they get shit scared".
Members of the National Party (Národní strana, or NS) believe that by saying this, Topolánek has committed the crime of defaming a nation, race, or belief. And the crime of slander as well.
They have announced the intention to pursue a legal action against the PM on their web-page.
Criticism from other parts
It is not only the nationalists, known more often than not for their run-ins with the police, who see red over the said remark. Mayor of Central Bohemian town of Cerhenice, a member of the opposition Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) Marek Semerád sent the PM an open letter for the very same reason
In it, he called on Topolánek to apologize. If he doesn't, Semerád would consider the possibility of suing him too.
Topolánek made the controversial statement when asked whether the nation shares his belief that we are living in an age of a relative abundance and prosperity (and therefore can afford to pay more for goods, energies etc.).
"The people need to be told this, because in their everyday rush for mall shopping and soap opera watching they don't have time to realize it," he said before delivering the supposedly criminal remark: "I don't consider them dumb. However, they usually see everything in negative light and when something happens, they get shit scared."
Although the allegation of cowardice being a Czech national syndrome (not to mention the rather uncouth formulation) is debatable, for the sake of fairness it needs to be said that at least Topolánek's assertions about the materialistic obsessions of the population do seem to have a point.
As recently transpired in a big international study, the country has the highest number of megamalls (those with total shopping area larger than 1 million square meters) per capita in the whole Europe and domestic soap operas really are a mass phenomenon here.
Guardians of what?
According to the National Party members, the "defamatory" statement is an outcome of the Czech Republic's political cuture falling to its historic low.
Which, again, is not a completely unjustified claim either. One only needs to think back to the brouhaha which ensued after the very PM, (in)famously displayed a middle-finger in what he later claimed was a "salute", during the question time in the parliament. And numerous other acts of profanity which he personally and many other top politicians in this country are known for.
But even the credibility of those who stand behind this legal pursuit leaves much to be desired.
The legal complaint was filed by Michal Kubik, a senior member of the far-right party and at the same time a leader of the National Guard - a recently established, allegedly self-defense group inspired by the similar and equally controversial initiative in Hungary.
The Czech president Václav Klaus, for example, has already stated that a democratic regime has no place for such an organization.