Opposition Blasts Babis Over Minister Plagiarism Scandal

Andrej Babis

Prague, July 25 (CTK) – The opposition commented on the suspicion of plagiarism in the MA thesis of Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) mainly with irony today, reminding of similar affairs of another two ministers in the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD).


Both previous ministers resigned in the wake of their plagiarism scandals.


On the other hand, former health minister Svatopluk Nemecek (CSSD) called the criticism of Metnar exaggerated.


The public Czech Television (CT) reported on Tuesday that Metnar had not properly quoted all sources listed in his thesis that he had defended at the Faculty of Education of the University of Ostrava, north Moravia, in 2004.


Though his thesis includes a list of the used sources, there are only very few direct references to them in the text. At least eight pages are completely copied from another book or their text is just slightly modified without clear references to the source, CT said.


Metnar told CT that he would study his thesis again and if the suspicion were confirmed, he would consider his resignation.


“If I am reading now that Minister Metnar will consider his resignation over his MA thesis, this reminds me a paraphrase of a famous song: ‘Where have all the ministers gone?,'” Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy chairman Martin Baxa tweeted.


He pointed out that justice minister Tatana Mala (ANO) and labour minister Petr Krcal (CSSD) resigned from the government over suspicions of plagiarism in their university theses in the past few weeks.


They defended their theses at Czech universities before 2008 the schools started using special software to reveal plagiarism.


“We are approaching the situation where the basic requirement for a minister will be not to have a university degree,” Pirate MP Mikulas Ferjencik tweeted.


TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova commented on the situation in a similar way, saying a university education would rather be a disadvantage for the future candidates for ministers.


TOP 09 deputy group head Miroslav Kalousek compared the case of Metnar’s thesis to the criminal prosecution of PM and ANO chairman Andrej Babis on suspicion of EU subsidy fraud.


“If Minister Metnar were suspected of a subsidy fraud and prosecuted over this, he could have stay calm. This is in harmony with the government’s code of ethics, according to its head (Babis). However, because he wrongly quoted sources in his thesis, he may pay with his seat for it. The most important thing is that we have clear priorities,” Kalousek said.


Ex-minister Nemecek stood up for Metnar.


“I think that we have started exaggerating. To chase Metnar for having wrongly quoted his sources is a bit too much… It has only crossed my mind whether this is not a red herring,” he said.


The Ostrava University said it would check Metnar’s thesis again. “The whole work will be computerised retroactively,” university spokesman Adam Soustruznik said, adding that the thesis would be checked by the programme to reveal plagiarism.