Former minister starts petition against gov’t

Michael Kocáb says state is not reacting forcefully enough to crisis in Ukraine

Prague, Sept. 24 (ČTK) — Former Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb has presented a petition calling on Czech ruling bodies and politicians to react forcefully to the situation in Ukraine, support the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state and denounce Russia’s interference in Ukrainian affairs.

Kocáb said President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, ČSSD) should not make vague statements.

He pointed to Zeman’s recent statement that the conflict in Ukraine is a civil war, not a Russian invasion, and that he believes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when he says there are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

“He makes it ostentatiously clear that he considers the Russian side’s statements more trustworthy than the stances of our partners from the EU and NATO. He talks exclusively for himself, not for our citizens. We sharply dissociate ourselves from such a statement,” Kocáb writes in the petition.

Kocáb said he disagrees with the politicians who “challenge the effectiveness of the economic sanctions” against Russia.

“The sanctions are the most significant act of fundamental disagreement with the steps Russia is taking in relation to Ukraine’s sovereignty, on which the EU and NATO countries have reached agreement,” Kocáb said.

The petition was signed by some 1,500 people today, including prominent figures in the area of culture.

Kocáb was an external aide to late President Václav Havel in 1993–2003.

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