Among other things, this blog allows us to follow up on stories that we might not otherwise have time, money, or space to cover over at the main site. As some of you might remember, I discussed back in April the case of Gracian Svacina, a young man who was living in a children’s home. He had dared to write a column for a magazine targeted at such institutions, describing, rather ironically, the intense cleaning and preparation that took place in anticipation of a visit by Livia Klausova, the country’s first lady. He recounted, for example, a mad dash to pick up every fallen leaf in the grass, and other Potemkin-village-like attempts to fancy up the place in time. In response, Gracian received criticism for being ungrateful, and there were even calls to kick him out of the home. Perhaps most troubling, he says that he received a reprimanding call from Klausova, something that she has yet to deny.
I’ve been traveling the last few weeks and missed that the proverbial other shoe had apparently fallen last month. As reported by the daily Mlada fronta DNES in October, the magazine that ran the story unexpectedly lost its funding from the foundation of Klausova and her husband, President Vaclav Klaus – after receiving 30,000 crowns a year (about $1,600) for a period of five years. Convinced that the decision was related to his article, Gracian wrote a letter to Klausova to complain, placing it on his Facebook page as well. Reached for comment by Mlada fronta, Klausova refused to say much, only saying that they had already responded to the letter. Her secretary said the foundation had simply decided to provide funding to other applicants this year and there was nothing else to it; she added that Gracian shouldn’t be complaining because the foundation had also provided him with a stipendium for his journalism studies.
In an amusing twist, the article on the dispute then prompted many private donors – including some famous journalists and Andrej Babiš, one of the richest Czechs – to contribute so much money that the magazine, which Gracian now edits, has more money than it ever had before. One of those that sent money was Tomas Etzler, a correspondent for Czech Television in China who once worked for CNN. “When I consider how both Klauses have behaved already for years, it’s not such a big surprise,” he wrote Gracien. “If you write truthfully, if you have a clear conscience, don’t let yourself get upset with arrogant, irate, and uneducated criticism.”
Since the magazine already has enough for its operation, the rest will go toward funding other activities for kids in the children’s homes.
On top of all that, the journalist who wrote the article in Mlada fronta that had detailed how all those people had contributed money to Zamecek won a prize for “Positive Report of the Year” from the OKD foundation.
So all’s well that ends well, except for Livia Klausova’s reputation.
Photo credits: Michaela Danelova / Respekt and the president’s website.