'A small, ex-Soviet state': WSJ's Czechia reference sparks backlash

Senior diplomats and public figures spoke up against the US publication's branding of Czechia over the weekend.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.03.2024 10:59:00 (updated on 18.03.2024) Reading time: 1 minute

A headline from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that called Czechia “a small, ex-Soviet satellite state” has received sharp criticism from politicians and diplomats in Czechia, with American Ambassador to Czechia Bijan Sabet also intervening.

The WSJ, over the weekend, published an article that described Czechia’s efforts to help Ukraine amid its current war with Russia. It references Czechia’s recent acquisition of 800,000 artillery shells and that the country was “turning to its Cold War contacts” to support Ukraine.

Ambassador Sabet's intervention on social media, where he crossed out the offending terms and replaced them with a more respectful description – "a democratic country for more than 30 years and an important NATO ally" – signaled a diplomatic response to the issue.

Director of the Czech non-governmental organization European Values Jakub Janda vehemently opposed WSJ’s headline: "We are not some lowly 'small ex-Soviet satellite.' We are the Czech Republic, a proud country of 10 million people." Janda also said on social media platform X that while Czechia was throwing its full weight behind supporting Ukraine, France and Germany were doing things “for the sake of ego.”

Similarly, Martin Holub, a representative of the British Embassy's advisory team, rebuked the characterization, asserting: "If 'small' and 'ex-Soviet' is all they come up with, they can go to hell."

The WSJ has since amended its headline following the sharp criticism. It now reads: “In Central Europe, Czechs go hunting for arms in Ukraine.”

The controversy surrounding the WSJ headline serves as a reminder of the Czech Republic's historical context and its evolution as an independent nation since the end of the Cold War.

Was the WSJ wrong to call Czechia a "small, post-Soviet satellite state"?

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The WSJ is a division of Dow Jones, which right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch owns. He recently announced his engagement to a Russian, Elena Zhukova.

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