Czech editor issues apology after losing Parliament seat

PRAGUE, July 6 (JTA) — The editor of an extreme-nationalist Czech newspaper has apologized “to everyone he ever offended” following the electoral defeat of his Republican Party. Josef Krejsa, editor of the newspaper Republika and a member of Parliament until last month’s elections, is regarded as one of the main ideologists of the far-right Republican Party. The Federation of Czech Jewish Communities recently brought a lawsuit against Krejsa’s newspaper, accusing it of propagating anti-Semitism. Tomas Kraus, the federation’s executive secretary, did not know what to make of Krejsa’s public apology. “He is a very confusing figure,” said Kraus. “I don’t know what to think.” He added that the apology would have no effect on the court case, which is currently in the investigative stage. Some local commentators have speculated that there is a practical reason for Krejsa’s ostensible change of heart. Under Czech law, legislators are immune from prosecution for any crime. Having lost his seat, Krejsa can now be charged with spreading racial hatred via his newspaper. About 6,000 Jews are estimated to live in the Czech Republic. The Republican Party, known for its anti-Gypsy and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and for opposition to the Czech Republic’s joining NATO, polled only 3.9 percent during last month’s parliamentary elections. Political parties must claim at least 5 percent of the popular vote in order to be seated. In the outgoing Parliament, Republicans held 18 seats out of 200, having won just over 8 percent in the 1996 elections. The failure of the Republicans to be seated in the Parliament was “the biggest news of the election,” a senior political adviser to Czech President Vaclav Havel recently said.

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