No changes brought over Operation Lead

Petra Buzkova

Prague's state prosecutor announced on Thursday that charges will not be brought against Vratislav Sima, a former advisor to Czech Prime minister Milos Zeman. Mr Sima is widely believed to be the author of a campaign that was meant to discredit one of the country's most popular politicians, Petra Buzkova. Last year, a copy of this campaign, code-named Operation Lead, was leaked to the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes. Zdenek Sarapatka, another of the prime minister's advisors, said that the man behind Operation Lead was none other than Mr Sima. Lucie Krupickova has more.

Petra Buzkova
The documents leaked to Mlada Fronta laid out concrete plans to discredit Petra Buzkova, a rising star in the Social Democrats, the prime minister's own party. But according to Prague's state prosecutor, Vratislav Sima's actions did not pose a threat to society and could not therefore be considered a criminal offence. Commentator Vaclav Pinkava is convinced the decision of the court was correct:

"This is a case of over-sensitivity. The charge was that this is a case of criminal libel. But I think in a strict sense this was not criminal libel. Neither was it published because it was intercepted before it would have been published nor was it over-scaled that would have brought down the public order."

Operation Lead, so called because PB, Ms Buzkova's initials, is the symbol for lead in the table of elements, included plans to accuse her of collaborating with the Communist secret police, being an alcoholic and abusing her young daughter. Now that charges will not be brought against Vratislav Sima, should Petra Buzkova herself take the matter any further? Commentator Vaclav Pinkava:

"She can still bring a civil case. Question is, is this a criminal act? Now, Mrs. Buzkova is certainly a politician and in that sense she is an important public figure, but making claims about her private life is making claims about her private life. First of all it´s an assertion which is very probably untrue. You know, I think the point is that the society in which we live is too readily willing to accept gossip to be truth. Therefore people defend themselves against gossip in the courts. But it doesn´t help them in the sense, that if it was worth going to court about there must be something in it."

In the long run, Vaclav Pinkava feels that all of the media attention and speculation about Operation Lead has been unnecessary and that Czech society has to learn to take such cases with a pinch of salt:

"I think the society here is gradually waking up to the possibility that the opinions are merely opinions even when expressed in writing. And that you can't damage a person necessarily by making claims about them. You know, sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me, that's what a mature society does, and unless you make a really extreme case and a lot of effort to defame someone and to really damage their reputation whether it's an individual or an organisation, this is not a matter that should be taken to court in a criminal case."

Author: Lucie Krupičková
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