‘The Civic Democrats are losing their original program based on the personal responsibility of each for his own life, on a vision of a slimmed down state and low taxation. They are acting halfway Leftist. But most importantly, too many people in the ODS or its circle are connected with massive corruption,’ Stanislav Bernard says
On the bus trip to Humpolec it is already clear that Stanislav Bernard is a popular and well-known personality in Vysočina. “I even wish him his Porsche in front of the brewery. He brews good beer and he’s an honest guy,” one of our fellow passengers tells me. Other Humpolec citizens also reacted similarly to the co-owner of the Bernard family brewery, which in 2011 won 47 awards and whose black lager with its subtle fermentation is the proud holder of the prestigious title “World’s Best Dark Lager.”
At the present time, Stanislav Bernard is a noteworthy personality not only due to beer, but also to his engagement in public life, primarily as a member of the administrative council of the Anti-Corruption Endowment Fund (NFPK), which has instigated a number of serious causes during recent months, especially in relation to the Prague municipal transport company and Minister Jaromír Drábek’s (TOP 09) Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
In an interview with Czech Position, Bernard talks about the so-called post-Communist cheating of the state and puts the boot into Nečas’s government, which is raising taxes contrary to concept. Among others, he says “Whenever people are proud of something, they’re not going to destroy it themselves. The level of thieving is lower where people love their country. I know that from my company.”
Q: To begin with, I’d like to ask the same question I asked your colleague in the Anti-Corruption Endowment Fund, Karel Janeček: Does involving yourself in various corruption cases complicate your life? Do you fee like a neo-dissident?
BERNARD: I don’t feel like a dissident. I’m just not indifferent to where I live — whether in a plundered country or one that is going somewhere. My motivation for engaging in the endowment is simple. When the revolution came and the Communist regime fell, I said to myself: “Fine. Let’s go and build something that makes sense and prospers, create a slimmed down state which doesn’t bother people with bureaucracy and which has a strong economy”. What do I mind today? That such a corrupt environment has been created on a state-wide scale that it fundamentally damages the Czech Republic. I repeat, fundamentally.
Q: Your detractors criticize the way you took over the Humpolec brewery. Allegedly you were a member of the privatization committee in Opava. Were you prepared for that kind of barrage?
BERNARD: I was, and I own up to it without a problem. We partners bought a brewery that was earmarked for closure under terrible conditions. It was an auction in the context of the small privatization which five applicants entered and which anyone else could have entered. The auction price for the ruins of the brewery climbed to an insane Kč 45 million plus Kč 7.0 million for mostly unnecessary, unusable inventory. At the same time, its residual value was Kč 9.5 million, so we bought the brewery at auction for five times its value. I don’t know of many less profitable privatizations in the Czech Republic - actually no similar one. I wouldn’t talk about “detractors” — who throw dirt to distract attention from their own frauds. I’m only interested in them in connection with exposing their thievery.
Bernard says he has no political ambitions now but is seeking to curb corruption wherever he can
Twenty years later, the ruins have been turned into a brewery brewing interesting beer. In our company, which together with the malting company regularly employs 170 people, shared company values, which the employees themselves thought up, are applied. The great majority of our people are proud of the company, because they know that we are doing something substantial together. The atmosphere in the company is friendly. I say that because we have succeeded in creating a sort of micro-space, where the normal rules of the game operate and where there is no theft and fraud.
Q: Nevertheless, do you not regret going into battle against the shadowy figures of local politics?
BERNARD: No, on the contrary, it gives me hope that one day it will be better.
Post-Communist cheating of the state
Q: Almost three quarters of the public thinksthat the majority of, or almost all public representatives are involved in corruption. What is the cause of this status?
BERNARD: The Czech Republicis a post-Communist country.Unfortunately, under the former regime the state was equal to the Communist Party,which was a criminal organization that raped the whole country, prevented capable people from being capable, made everything average, locked people up in rabbit cages and barely fed them. So the great majority of people excused robbing the state by saying that they were actually robbing the hated Communists. It was not generally regarded as something unfair. Unfortunately, this condition has persevered to the present day and developed to obscene and enormous dimensions. Instead of this malaise being tackled after the revolution, the problem, on the contrary, has gained ground.
Q: What impact has corruption on the state and on society?
BERNARD: I see two levels here. Firstly, there is the enormous damage that corruptive behavior has on people’s morale.That doesn’t just affect “those at the top” though.Take for example that there is bribery even in third or fourth division football, i.e. in the lowest level competitions. Corruption eats through the whole of society. People prefer to see the mistakes of others. Those who carry out corruption — even if is a matter of a few thousand crowns — don’t realize that they are actually doing the same as those “at the top,” only with regard to smaller amounts.