Even followers of stations such as Fox News could learn about a story that makes my homeland look like a banana republic:
partial amnesty in the New Year Address. And perhaps by other things that Klaus' mindless, euronaive critics have considered politically incorrect for quite some time.
Needless to say, the accusation is completely absurd and the hypothetical "sins" have nothing to do with high treason. Most of the proponents of the trial know that it's absurd and unjustifiable. Nevertheless, they're complete slaves of their infinite hatred and the ends always justify the means in their eyes.
The Czech constitution clearly defines the crime of "great treason" that only the president may commit. I will deliberately use a different phrase; "high treason" (vlastizrada, literally "betrayal of the fatherland") is something that everyone may be guilty of. On the other hand, the "great treason" ("velezrada") is an exclusive crime of the president constitutionally defined as "acts of the president done with the purpose of eliminating the sovereignty or integrity of the republic or its democratic system". If a Czech politician in the recent 500 years has worked most effectively not to belong into this description, it was Václav Klaus. The defense of the sovereignty and integrity of his country and of its democratic system is what he's been working on most of the time.
Much like Czech kings, Austrian emperors, as well as Czechoslovak and Czech presidents since 1918, he had the right to declare an amnesty and he did it once – less frequently than many others. Amnesties took place in every system, with a possible exception of the Nazi protectorate era when it took minutes to execute an inconvenient Czech (is that the period someone considers our example?). But it was abused by Klaus haters, decorated with all kinds of idiotic conspiracy theories, and a routine yet infrequent event – and amnesties should be routine yet infrequent – became a minefield.
There's no doubt about the right of the president to declare the amnesty, much like about his right to delay the approval of various controversial international treaties etc. But the Klaus haters just want to find a way to create problems for him – and it doesn't matter a tiny bit to them whether the procedure to create the problems is justifiable.
A paradoxically important new motor behind these Klaus haters is a guy who is a complete zero in the standard politics of a democratic country as we have known it since 1989 – a billionaire and algorithmic trader Mr Karel Janeček, an almost high school classmate of string theorist Martin Schnabl. He has no clue about politics whatsoever but his hatred towards president Klaus is unlimited. He collected 70,000 signatures and 27 out of 81 Senators to support his crusade claiming that Klaus has committed "great treason". If the majority of the Senate decides, the Constitutional Court will have to seriously think whether or not Klaus has committed great treason.
Even if the verdict were Yes, it wouldn't mean much for Klaus. He would lose his $2,500 a month presidential pension but it's not such a significant amount of money relatively to his wealth as well as expected future income from the CATO Institute, a university, and perhaps other sources. But I think that what it would do to the image of the Czech Republic would be significantly bad.
Klaus himself said that this "great treason crusade" is just a "political frolic", if I use a literal translation constructed with the help of a dictionary. Clearly, he doesn't want to suggest he is afraid of these political dwarfs, he doesn't want to produce advertisements for them, he knows that their efforts will almost certainly be unsuccessful, and he realizes that a "guilty" verdict wouldn't be a personal catastrophe for him, anyway.
But the prime minister, center-right trained plasma physicist Mr Petr Nečas, said that these efforts are petty and its champions should be ashamed. Nečas' ODS party – which was founded by Klaus 20 years ago but has kept some distance from him in recent 10 years – is the only party in the Senate that has a clear opinion about the "great treason trial": it's bullshit. All the other parties' clubs are split. Miloš Zeman, the nominally left-of-center President Elect, is against the lawsuit and considers the term "great treason" exaggerated (while he counts himself as a critic of the amnesty). Zeman's strength not to participate in similar absurd games just because a strange would-be smart majority does is a reason why I was voting for him.
Whenever I was thinking about the political processes in the Nazi era or the early communist era of the 1950s, I couldn't understand how it was possible for the people to be that nasty, dishonest, and how those political trials could have accumulated a sufficient support by the citizenry to be defensible at the national level. But when I see how easily people may propose similar witch hunts and how many ordinary people defend this utterly immoral fascist game, my surprise disappears. I have very little doubt that if Mr Karel Janeček were in charge of the Holocaust, he would be able and willing to use an arbitrarily unrelated law to exterminate millions of Jews, too. These people have absolutely no morality – and they love to talk about it as if they were the Messiahs. They're fascist scum.
The communist regime has "framed" itself as the natural latest stage in the old battle of the mankind for a better society. As you must know – e.g. from the official name of China – the communist totalitarianism calls itself "people's democracy" which is an even better, probably even more democratic, version of democracy. The fact that it is pretty much the opposite of democracy isn't important for the totalitarianism's champions. A lie repeated 100 times "becomes" the truth.
Both Nazism and communism have used some traditional laws and principles to destroy the old and basic values of democracy, freedom, and human dignity. In this respect, the likes of Mr Janeček are doing exactly the same thing. The "great treason" – acts against the existential interests of the country – is the only crime that may be committed by the sitting president according to the constitution and this rule has a very good reason. It protects the head of the state against coups that could be justified by less serious excuses while the protection of the existential interests of the country is ultimately the only "lethally important" thing that the president has to do. And Klaus has undoubtedly protected these interests at every moment of his political career.
But they don't care that it's really them who are the traitors according to these constitutional principles. While they know that the "great treason" accusation is absurd, they realize that its applicability will be decided by real-world people and many real-world people are as corrupt, dishonest, and hateful as the authors of the "great treason crusade" themselves – so they (correctly) realize that their witch hunt has a nonzero chance to succeed even if the accusations are self-evidently absurd. It's enough for these efforts if the questions will be decided by sufficiently fanatical and dishonest Klaus haters.
In the same way, they want to invent some contrived explanation why it might be a "great treason", after all. In the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an amendment to the Czech constitution, there are some comments about courts – the charter guarantees a fair trial to everyone, and so on – so it could perhaps be used to argue that Klaus has worked to undermine the democratic system.
This justification is highly contrived because details about the work of courts are not what democracy is all about. Democracy is about the control of the citizens over the political institutions of the country, not about particular damages paid by a criminal to someone else or something like that. Most laws, bills, and charters in the legal system are simply not about the very existence of democracy so their violation can't be considered an assault against democracy. But even more importantly, the Charter actually says nothing that could be used against Klaus. After all, the very purpose of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is pretty much exactly the opposite: it is meant to protect the accused individuals from a system that could go awry, against mobs that would like to harass or murder an inconvenient individual, against premature verdicts decided without the accused person's proper defense, and so on. It's very clear that the Charter of Rights and Freedom was pretty much designed exactly to protect folks like Klaus against immoral fanatic mobs such as the assholes currently led by Mr Janeček.
They must know that the Charter is against them much like all other documents that are meant to protect democracy and the sovereignty and integrity of the country. And I am really convinced that they do know. But they hate this arrangement. They hate democracy and the rule of law as we have known it for quite some time. They're just not courageous enough to admit (or they – perhaps rightfully – think that it would be strategically unwise to admit) that democracy and the rule of law are the main principles they really despise.
So they say something else instead: that the purpose of the documents that should protect democracy, the rule of law, the individual freedoms, and the sovereignty of the country is exactly the opposite: to transfer the power to self-appointed mindless mobs with 70,000 heads, to pay no attention to clear laws that give some authorities the right to make certain decisions (e.g. amnesties), to suppress individual rights and freedoms in favor of the rights of mobs who hate certain individuals, and to force politicians to immediately endorse every treaty that reduces the national sovereignty. They don't care that the documents were designed to protect exactly the opposite principles than the principles they find dear.
Mr Janeček and his soulmates are the new Nazis and Stalinists who will never hesitate to harass, prosecute, or kill an individual if they feel some hatred or jealousy. Of course that the latter is the primary driver, after all. All these pseudointellectuals hate the fact that relatively to Prof Klaus, they are intellectual dwarfs and constantly whining wee-wees.
These folks are disgusting and I don't have to explain you how high their concentration is in the Czech Academia and in the "cultural battlefront" of the nation. They may be a minority but they're such a loud minority that they determine the "etiquette" in numerous occupations, especially those considered "intellectual ones". That's a pity.