Czech intelligence sees decrease in right-wing extremism

Workers’ Party of Social Justice, photo: ČTK

Activities of right-wing extremists have dropped in the first three months of this year, according to a report by the Czech intelligence service, or BIS, released on Thursday. While the decrease is attributed to the ban of the far-right Workers’ Party, authorities says better police work has also curbed extremism-related crime.

The head of the far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice, Tomáš Vandas, lashed out against Czech Romanies at a May Day rally in Prague, in front of around 100 sympathizers. The crowd was smaller than in the previous years. The party never managed to pick up where its predecessor, the Workers’ Party, left after it was banned in February.

Tomáš Vandas,  photo:
The Czech intelligence agency, BIS, cites the ban of the far-right group as the single most significant reason behind a drop in right-wing extremism it registered in the first three months of this year. But a recent government report says that last year, the number of people charged in connection with extremism rose sharply – by 50 percent. Interior Minister Martin Pecina told Czech Radio this is because the police and the judiciary did a better job.

“I think people may have noticed that the number of extremist acts – neo-Nazi concerts, marches and violent attacks – has clearly dropped. We have also managed to identify those who finance extremism for instance by trading prohibited merchandise, and to eliminate violent offenders. The fact that there have been more arrests and convictions does not mean at all that there has been a rise in extremism; it shows that the police and the judiciary have been doing a better job.”

Martin Pecina,  photo: ČTK
According to the authorities, the extremist and neo-Nazi scene in the Czech Republic is fragmented, with a number of isolated groups fighting to gain influence. But ahead of May’s general elections, some of the extremist agenda has been picked up by political groupings aspiring to enter the political main-stream. The up-and-coming party, Public Affairs, started sending out patrols into the streets of Prague a few weeks ago, a practice that has been until now employed by the banned Workers’ Party. Klára Kalibová is from the monitoring group Tolerance.

“All political parties are right now slightly racist; they have some populist agenda in their programmes. I’m talking specifically about the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats. But with the regional elections coming in the autumn, I would say that on the regional level, the Workers Party of Social Justice still has a potential to gain more votes.”

Workers’ Party of Social Justice,  photo: ČTK
To counter that, the Interior Ministry last year launched a programme in the northern town of Most that engaged local inhabitants in fighting extremism. The project provides training to Romany social workers, local authorities and the police. Minister Pecina says the programme has yielded good results, and will be extended to other places, such as Ostrava, Litvínov, Děčín and others.