Brno Mayor Vankova Offers To Resign Over Images Circulating On Social Media, If Asked By Colleagues
Vankova, 46, a lawyer by training, has been the mayor of Brno since 2018. Credit: Marketa Vankova, via Facebook.
Brno, 1 August (CTK) – Over the weekend, a photo circulated on social media of Brno Mayor Marketa Vankova (ODS) being handed lines of white powder, with an appearance similar to cocaine. Last night, in an interview with TV Nova, Vankova said she did not know whether the photo was genuine, and saw no reason to step down, though she added she would be willing to resign if her colleagues at Brno City Hall requested it.
According to Blesk.cz, Vankova originally said that the image was probably photo-edited, but on Monday she admitted that the photo could have come from a meeting with young people in Brno several years ago. However, she said she did not recall whether the events actually took place as it appears in the photo.
The picture, first posted on Saturday on the satirical/ODS-critical Facebook page “Ještěže se toho nedožilo Brno autem”, shows Vankova and her deputy Robert Kerndl (ODS), with someone else holding out what appears to be a roll of paper and a phone with lines of white powder on the screen.
Vankova told TV Nova that she does not know whether the photo is real or edited. She said it could have come from a meeting with young people in the centre of Brno two or three years ago.
“We were at a social event that went on until the night, and when we were returning we came across a group of young, cheerful people in the centre; we got talking to them and spent several dozen minutes with them,” she said. However, she said she could not recall whether what is in the photo happened then.
She also said she did not know what substance was in the photo. She said she has no experience with hard drugs, only occasionally drinks a glass of wine or beer or uses legal cannabis products.
When asked by TV Nova whether she would expect consequences if the photograph were proven to be authentic, she said that she herself sees no reason to resign, but added, “If my colleagues at Brno City Hall conclude that this photograph or this situation I have described is a reason for me to resign as mayor, I will do so.”
On Tuesday, Vankova’s coalition partners at Brno City Hall were mostly reserving judgement, but said they would like to discuss the issue with the mayor.
The Brno ODS branch leadership and the assembly group of Spolu (also including KDU-CSL and TOP 09) have been convened for a meeting on Monday, 7 August, to discuss the photo, according to Monika Svarickova, assistant to the ODS regional chair.
Tomas Aberl, a Brno councillor for TOP 09, said he plans to talk to the mayor personally about the issue. “I would like to know what her opinion is on the matter so she can tell me her point of view. Until then, I have nothing to comment on on the basis of one photograph,” Aberl told CTK.
The Brno KDU-CSL branch wants to discuss the situation this afternoon, according to councillor Filip Chvatal. “The mayor must be able to explain it and we want to meet her right away. So far we are getting more questions than answers. However, this is primarily a matter of the Brno ODS, which won the elections. Of course, the latter has the right to nominate a mayor from its ranks,” Chvatal told CTK.
Brno councillor for the Social Democrats (CSSD), Jiri Oliva, said he saw no reason for Vankova to resign.
Environment Minister Petr Hladik (KDU-CSL), Vankova’s former deputy at Brno City Hall, said Vankova should explain the photo so that it stops raising further questions, but that whether Vankova should keep the post of mayor is a matter for the Brno ODS branch.
Vankova, 46, a lawyer by training, has been the mayor of Brno since 2018. Hladik was a deputy mayor of Brno from 2016 to 2022 and was appointed minister this March.
ODS, the senior governing party at the national level, has not commented. “ODS chairman [and PM Petr Fiala] is currently [on holiday] abroad and the mayor has explained the whole matter,” ODS spokesman Jakub Skyva told CTK.
ODS parliamentary group head Marek Benda described the case as a “summer storm in a teacup” and said he drew no conclusions from it. “Brno has always been a slightly alternative city…Mayor Vankova has my support and they have to sort out internal matters within their city,” Benda added.
Police spokesman Pavel Svab told CTK today that police were monitoring information in the media and evaluating it, but were not investigating anything for the time being.
“We need to discuss this with our colleagues and we also need to clarify this with the mayor,” said opposition assembly member Monika Lukasova Spilkova (Pirates). “She can spend her free time as she sees fit, and we are the last ones who would hold anyone accountable for this. But I am surprised. I thought it was an edited photo.”
On Tuesday, Matej Hollan, a former Brno deputy mayor and now a city assembly member for the opposition Greens/Zit Brno list, wrote on social media that the photo was not a resignation issue. “I think that the mayor should resign for many things, especially for the plundering of the city coffers for an overpriced hockey hall, but not for this,” he wrote.
At the same time, he added that he appreciated that the mayor had faced the problem head on and admitted to the occasional use of recreational drugs. “The use of substances like cocaine is widespread, it is a very common drug in politics,” he said. “It certainly has its risks, but there’s no point in making a big deal out of it because it’s really massively widespread. On the contrary, it should be decriminalised, just like cannabis. The war on drugs is going nowhere.”