Murder of Slovak journalist shocks Czechs, highlights position of journalists in this country
Czechs have reacted with shock and widespread condemnation to the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend in neighbouring Slovakia. The news that the journalist was most likely murdered for exposing corruption in high office has raised concern for democracy and freedom of the press, sparking a debate on the position of the media here in the Czech Republic.
Similar reactions came from politicians across the board. “Journalists are rightly considered watchdogs of democracy and every such attack is an attack on freedom and democracy. The culprits must be found and brought to justice” Speaker of Parliament Jan Hamáček wrote.
"A young journalist and his girlfriend murdered in cold blood in their own home –this must not and cannot be allowed to happen," the head of the Mayors and Independents Party Petr Gazdík tweeted.
"Here we see the president’s suggestion being put into practice," Marian Jurečka from the Christian Democratic Party noted – "unbelievable that such words could have come from the Czech head of state," he added.
The president himself failed to respond to the murder, with his spokesman merely tweeting that the president would not be drawn into a debate on an incident abused by his political opponents.
However the silence from Prague Castle spoke volumes and Adam Černy, chairman of the Czech Syndicate of Journalists, said clearly that the Czech head of state was damaging the position of journalists in the Czech Republic.
"Five years ago, in his inaugural speech, President Zeman devoted a third of his speech to the media and he compared the media to organized crime. That is absolutely unacceptable and it is proof that something is very wrong in relations between media and politics.”