Czech Politicians Trade Warnings Over Tone of Campaign After Live Bullet Sent To Monika Babisova

At noon on Saturday, Babis announced that he had received a letter with a live bullet and an offensive message to his wife Monika. Photo credit:

Prague, Jan 23 (CTK) – Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), coalition government members and presidential candidate Petr Pavel joined condemnation over the weekend of apparent threats against the family of ANO leader Andrej Babis on Saturday.

However, they also placed the blame partly at the former PM’s door, and asked Babis to change the style of his campaign.

At noon on Saturday, Babis announced that he had received a letter with a live bullet and an offensive message to his wife Monika. The police are investigating the case.

Babis said the message was intimidation of a presidential candidate, and criticised the government and his rival Petr Pavel for, he claimed, keeping silent on attacks on voters of other parties holding different views.

The threats of violence should be denounced, wrote Fiala on Twitter. “Any violence, be it direct or in the form of threats, must be clearly denounced. Such things have no place in the Czech Republic. We are and must remain a civilised and democratic country,” Fiala said.

On the other hand, lies, manipulation, and unwarranted personal attacks arising from the current presidential campaign must also be denounced, he added. Without naming Babis, he indirectly accused him of dividing society and fomenting conflict.

“I think that it is obvious that such methods are systematically being inserted into the political race by one of the current presidential candidates. One cannot pretend to be a victim on one hand and to spread lies, fear and hatred, on the other,” Fiala said.

By contrast, President Milos Zeman told online television channel that the threat against Babisova was the act of a “fool” who came to believe the claim by presidential candidate Danuse Nerudova that Babis is evil.

After Nerudova failed to advance to the runoff vote, she called on her voters to give their votes to Pavel because Babis was “evil”.

“There is one fool here, a mentally deranged man who came to believe that Babis is evil. Or he came to believe Nerudova, thanks to which he became a fool,” said Zeman.

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (STAN) also took to Twitter to denounce any aggression. He assured the public that the police would deal with the threat as seriously as with the threat to anyone else.

“Intimidating a family is unacceptably disgusting. This mad aggression must end. Babis can do a great deal for this. He could change the style of his campaign,” Rakusan said.

“I have myself seen intimidation and painted gallows and I know that I am not alone,” said the chair of the Chamber of Deputies and leader of TOP 09, Marketa Pekarova Adamova.

“Similar practices must not have any place in our society. Just like the lies of Babis who claims that his rival wants to wage a war or install a totalitarian regime. Hatred only spawns further hatred,” she added.

Pavel has also condemned the threats to Babis and his family.

“Such things should not occur in a democratic election. The atmosphere is mainly tense due to the scaring of voters and the anti-campaign Babis is waging. I call on him to withdraw the billboards threatening war and to start leading a decent campaign,” Pavel said.

Just after the results of the first round of the presidential election on Saturday were announced, Babis posted billboards across the Czech Republic saying “I will not drag the Czech Republic into a war. I am a diplomat. Not a soldier”.

Critics said this was scare-mongering and an insult to soldiers. Babis has admitted that the text was incorrect and promised to change it.

Now new billboards have appeared saying “The General Does Not Trust Peace” and “Vote for Peace. Vote for Babis.”

Former senior army and NATO official Petr Pavel is using billboards with his photo and the caption: “Leading with experience and calm in difficult times.”

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