Václav Klaus: The Pro-Russian Voice in Czech Politics

Václav Klaus is a Czech economist and politician who functioned as the president of the Czech Republic. He also served as the second and last prime minister of the Czech Republic. Klaus has sought close cooperation with Russia and is a known admirer of the Kremlin. 

Recently, Vaclav Klaus told the World Economic Forum in Davos in a speech that the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kyiv is the result of a series of mistakes made by the US and its NATO allies. Klaus also claimed that Moscow had not planned to occupy Ukraine when it projected its military operation in February 2022 but merely sought to stop it from joining NATO. He quoted that ” Moscow has repeatedly said that preventing Ukraine’s accession to NATO is one of the key reasons for its military campaign.”

In the 1990s, Klaus encouraged renewed oil and gas agreements between the Czech Republic and Russia and resisted Czech attempts to develop other energy sources, including the building of a pipeline between the Czech Republic and Germany. According to former Czech secret service directors, he was cautioned by the secret service of Russian organized crime extending into the Czech economy. In one method, oil was imported to the Czech Republic as heating oil and re-sold as diesel, making huge earnings for Russian businessman Semion Mogilevich, alleged to be a pivotal figure in the Russian mafia.

In March 2006, Klaus was represented by The Economist as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s “warmest admirers abroad”. Klaus was granted the 2007 Pushkin Medal by Putin for the advancement of Russian culture. It was indicated that this was partly due to his usage of the Russian language when speaking to Putin and Russian diplomats. Klaus stated that in relations with Russia, there have been “successes, tremendous successes”.

On 9 September 2014, in a discussion with Czech radio station Radio Impuls, Klaus stated that Ukraine is an artificially constructed state and that the Russian intervention in the country was characteristic of a civil war. He continued by conveying Maidan as an “artificial event assembled by the West and the US”, in which Russia was compelled to intervene. He added that in his belief, Ukraine lacks the robust ties to keep the country together. In the 2018 presidential election, Klaus supported his former political opponent Miloš Zeman who is a staunch supporter of Putin. 

In April 2021, Vaclav Klaus said “he is ashamed of the current leadership’s policies towards Russia, in particular, the expulsion of Russian diplomats.” He further contended that “We, [the Czech Republic] are barking at one of the world’s mighty powers, makes me feel ashamed and dismayed and extinguishes any appetite to try to do anything in this country [Czech Republic].”

Klaus considered that the statements by Czech officials concerning the blasts at the Vrbetice ammunition warehouses in 2014 and their allegations that Russian intelligence agencies were allegedly behind the happening, as well as the ensuing removal of a group of staffers from the Russian Embassy in Prague were a clear manifestation that the Czech authorities were aiming to achieve points with Washington and NATO.

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