Prague - Ukrainian observers have criticised former Czech president Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) for sharing opinions with what they call controversial pro-Russian American Institute in Ukraine (AIU), daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.
Ilustrační foto - Bývalý prezident Václav Klaus převzal 18. června v Praze od spolumajitele nakladatelství Fragment Pavla Nýče (vlevo) knihu novoročních projevů, které pronesl za deset let působení na Pražském hradě. Nakladatelství knihu vydalo ke Klausovým 75. narozeninám. ČTK Vavrušák Jan
A round table debate on Ukraine took place in the Prague-seated Vaclav Klaus Institute last week, co-organised by the AIU, which presents itself as an independent non-profit organisation, HN writes.
However, in 2009 the Ukrainian media found out that the AIU is not as independent from politicians as it asserts to be, the paper says.
Journalist Serhy Leshchenko then pointed out that the AIU had operated in Ukraine for a long time. It has always been linked with politicians promoting Ukraine´s alliance with Russia and campaigning against pro-Western inclinations, HN writes.
In addition, the AIU´s deputy director is James George Jatras, a foreign analyst of the U.S. Republicans, who stood up in defence of Slobodan Milosevic before The Hague tribunal in 2004.
Jatras also heads the AIU´s sister organisation American Council for Kosovo, which does not recognise independent Kosovo, HN writes.
It was Jatras who in 2003 concluded contracts on providing PR services to Viktor Yanukovych, the then Ukrainian prime minister. Their cooperation continued one year later when the Orange Revolution was underway in Ukraine, the daily says.
The guests to the Prague round table debate included AIU chief Anthony T. Salvia, who, on that occasion, praised Vladimir Putin as the best Russian leader since 1911 at least, the paper adds.
The Vaclav Klaus Institute says it had not known the opinions of the foreign participants in the debate, including the AIU representatives, beforehand.
"The academic background indicated that the discussion could be erudite, unlike the superficial media distortions," Petr Marcinka, from the Institute, told HN.
Also in view of Klaus´s long-lasting pro-Russian orientation, the Prague debate was as expected.
Klaus spoke in favour of the division of Ukraine. Along with his aide Jiri Weigl, former long-standing head of the presidential office, they criticised the "unilateral pro-Western propaganda," the paper writes.
Some Ukrainian observers voiced indignation at Klaus´s siding with the AIU. Volodymyr Horbach, in his commentary on Gazeta.ua, described the AIU as a pro-Russian institute that publishes only selected information on Ukraine, which plays into the hands of Moscow, HN writes.
"Klaus´s reputation is poor. His appearance will have no influence on our situation or on Europe´s approach to Ukraine," Horbach wrote.
The news server Den headlined its commentary on Klaus´s round table debate "A Victim to pro-Russian Propaganda."
Kiev University Professor Mikhail Kirsenko labelled Klaus´s anti-Ukrainian statements as a display of "traditional Czech Russophilism" and "primitive and rude drivel addressed to fools."
Disapproval has also been expressed by the Ukrainian embassy in Prague.
"Unlike the present and former leaders of most countries of the world, Vaclav Klaus is not even ready to admit that the current crisis in eastern Ukraine is a result of a cynical aggression by the Moscow leadership, aimed to return Ukraine to Russia´s sphere of influence," the embassy said.
It said the parallels Klaus drew between the situation in Ukraine and the 1992 split of Czechoslovakia are inappropriate.