Demonstration for the dismissal of the government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), October 12, 2022, Prague. On the picture, the organizer of the demonstration, Ladislav Vrábel, after handing over the petition to the president.
Prague – The organizer of the anti-government demonstrations, Ladislav Vrabel, today at the District Court for Prague 1, rejected the accusation of spreading an alarmist message. According to his testimony today, he made the statements about the Czech Republic planning to use nuclear weapons against Russia based on information from experts. The man faces up to two years in prison, the public prosecutor proposes to punish him with a suspended sentence. Negotiations will continue at the end of April.
According to state representative Katarína Kandová, last November in a video that was seen by thousands of people on YouTube and Facebook, Vrabel stated that the Czech government wants to attack the Russian Federation with nuclear warheads. According to Vrabel, the Russian side will retaliate and send nuclear weapons to the Czech Republic. According to the plaintiff, the statements could cause concern among the public about a possible war conflict between the Czech Republic and Russia. They accuse him of spreading alarmist news.
“I will propose a suspended sentence, the amount of which will depend on the course of the main trial,” Kandová told journalists after the hearing.
Vrabel denied the allegations in court. He stated that he felt absolutely innocent. He considers the prosecution to be political, an attempt to silence the opposition. “For a year now, our Prime Minister Petr Fiala has been saying that we are at war, and it is not viewed as spreading alarmist news,” he declared. According to him, nothing can inspire more fear in people than the public speech of the prime minister. According to his statement at the court, he himself is afraid of a war between the Czech Republic and Russia.
“The fear of war in society is unavoidable. I try to prevent it with my speeches,” said Vrabel. He added that, in addition, he only “reproduced information that has already been heard in the public space”. According to his testimony, he based his statements on an interview with former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, in which it was heard that the Czech government wants to replace light fighters with heavy aircraft, which primarily serve as carriers of nuclear weapons. He deduced from this that the Czech Republic is therefore planning to use nuclear warheads, probably American ones.
According to Vrabel, the statements he is accused of are taken out of context. He claims he didn't mean to scare or harm anyone. On the contrary, he wanted to protect people.
Dozens of Vrabel's supporters arrived at the court hearing. After his testimony, they started applauding and judge Lukáš Svrček had to warn them not to act like a demonstration in the courtroom. Since not everyone got into the hall, some watched the beginning of the meeting from outside the window. Some of them also waited for the result in the corridor, where during the break they loudly expressed their support for Vrabel.
The Regional Court in České Budějovice declared bankruptcy on Vrabel's property in February. Already in January, he canceled Vrabel's debt relief. Vrabel considers the trial a political process. He owes 2.7 million crowns. In 17 months of debt relief, he repaid CZK 14,500, i.e. 0.5 percent of the amount owed. During the debt relief, he is supposed to repay 30 percent of the debt.
Last November 17, Vrabel organized a march to the Czech Television (ČT) building in Prague on the Kavčí hory, demanding that he be able to make a speech on television. The TV has already rejected it. At the demonstration, in addition to criticism of the content of the ČT news, there was also criticism of the government. Vrabel has organized anti-government protests before, at the demonstration on October 28, according to police estimates, several tens of thousands of people gathered. Vrabel's lawyer Radek Suchý has previously stated that Vrabel never used any of the money sent for the demonstrations for himself.