Billionaire behind Ukraine initiative: “I feel even worse than in 1968”

Dalibor Dědek

Czech billionaire businessman Dalibor Dědek has launched an international petition drive calling for tougher action against Russia over its war on Ukraine. Named We Must Act, the campaign is calling for at least a no-fly zone over Ukraine and humanitarian bridges to besieged cities. Dědek explains what spurred him to action.

Russian invasion of Ukraine | Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka,  ČTK/AP Photo

“It goes back to history, because when I was 11 we were occupied by Russian tanks, and I will never forget that feeling.

“Now I feel even worse, because I feel guilty being part of a world that, although it could have, it has not stopped the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Was there any one moment that convinced you that you had to take action of some kind?

War in Ukraine | Photo: Mstyslav Chernov,  ČTK/AP Photo

“I think it was the third day of the invasion, when I saw the News.

“I realised that the sad thing is that the smiling faces of people who are watching us normally from billboards are saying nothing.

“They are just waiting and looking what’s going on.

“I said to myself, Look, you are only an electronic engineer, but you should do something – you cannot sit just watching the screen.”

Military help to Ukraine | Photo:  Czech Defence Ministry

So what are your main demands? What are you hoping to achieve?

“We would like to convince the responsible politicians to act, to provide military help to Ukraine.”

Do you understand why they are perhaps taking a cautious approach?

“I think that we are generally afraid of the nuclear weapons.

“And it’s true – it’s clear.

War in Ukraine | Photo: Efrem Lukatsky,  ČTK/AP Photo

“But just because someone has atomic bombs it doesn’t mean that they are untouchable.

“Look at the Ukrainians. They also know about them and they have not given up.

“They are fighting hard and we should help them.”

What about the Czech government? Do you think they are doing enough? They are more active than some other European states.

War in Ukraine | Photo: Evgeniy Maloletka,  ČTK/AP Photo

“To be diplomatic, I would say that the Poles and the Estonians and others are doing better.

“The parliaments of those countries have asked for a no-fly zone, and I think our side could be more active.”

Some people listening to this may be thinking, If Western governments and international bodies can’t stop this conflict, how will one Czech billionaire achieve anything?

“I think the Czech Republic is a part of the democratic countries.

“And even if we are a small one, we are in touch with other people who started similar petitions as us and now we are coordinating our efforts.

War in Ukraine | Photo: Vadim Ghirda,  ČTK/AP Photo

“We should not stop it.

“You know, one disadvantage of the democratic system, compared with a dictatorship, is that it is much slower.

“All the decision-making is slower, that’s true.

“But we should be pushing those who are responsible to realise that in this moment we are writing the history books.”

Author: Ian Willoughby
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