The Pro-Russian Discourse of Czech Politician Tomio Okamura and SPD

Tomio Okamura is a Czech far-right politician. He established the Czech political party Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD). Since October 2013, he has been a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. He is known for his affection for Putin and skepticism of EU policies toward Russia. His party SPD plainly sides with pro-kremlin stane.

After 2015, Freedom and Direct Democracy was among the few pro-Russian or pro-Putin political parties in the Czech parliament. The SPD’s discourse on Russia combined anti-liberal, anti-EU, anti-US, and xenophobic narratives, depicting Putin and his regime as protectors of “traditional” values and Christianity. SPD party has communicated on the Russian-Ukraine war in its political messages through the social media posts of party leader Tomio Okamura, showing that SPD returned to pro-Russian discourse.

In his social media posts, Okamura supported Putin’s disparaging rhetoric on subjects such as migration, same-sex marriage, and the position of the West and the US in international relations. The party also communicated the Russian narrative about the annexation of Crimea and the battle in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas as the logical Russian response to Ukraine’s 2014. The party representatives acknowledged the referendum in Crimea as legitimate, described it as a judgment made by the Ukrainian citizens, and even likened it to the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Shortly before the attack of Russia in Ukraine, Okamura de-emphasized the risks of Russia attacking Ukraine. During the weeks after February 2022, the party rarely remarked on the war. When public reactions became more legible after the initial surprise of Russia’s war of aggression, the SPD formed a readable discourse about the war. 

The way SPD talks about war can be described as a general story against war. They talk about the problem in Ukraine as just aggression without blaming Russia for starting it. They believe there wouldn’t be any war if people talked it out peacefully. Tomio Okamura thinks they’re oversimplifying things. 

During the initial two weeks after the Russian invasion, Okamura only made one statement about war on his social media. However, this statement influenced the main viewpoint of his party regarding the war. They downplayed Russia’s responsibility by saying Ukraine shares some blame. They also portrayed the war as a response to security threats from Ukraine and the West, setting the tone for their stance on the conflict.

This victim-blaming standing toward Ukraine repeated the official Russian narrative. The SPD also disavowed the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU, the US, and other countries as “inadequate” and attacked the military supplies for Ukraine potentially escalating the battle and threatening Czech security. The abstract anti-war views thus equaled a standing against intervention, ultimately legitimizing the aggressor.

Moreover, direct concerns about war were infrequent in the SPD’s communication about the dispute. Direct mentions of Russia and Putin, or the phrase “invasion”, were almost absent in Okamura’s social media posts. Interestingly, older favorable mentions of Putin and his regime were removed from Okamura’s Facebook page (Moláček, 2022), possibly to dodge accusations of plain sympathy for Putin.

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