The head of the police’s organized crime unit Robert Šlachta said that the extensive police operation against graft involved hundreds of officers and had been going on for over a year and a half. He said that in addition to raids on government offices the police had raided 31 private homes and offices confiscating 120 to 150 million crowns in cash, sensitive documents and many kilograms of gold. The anti-graft operation involved politicians, government officials and lobbyists and the charges involve corruption, bribery, money-laundering and abuse of office.
In a speech to Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said that
he would not step down over the ongoing scandal involving some of his
closest associates at the Office of the Government. Reacting to a sweep of
government offices and the detention of a number of high-ranking officials
by the Organized Crime Unit on Thursday, the premier slammed the police
what he called a “theatrical operation” which he said was damaging to
the reputation of the Czech Military Intelligence Service and the whole of
the Czech Republic. With regard to the charges of bribery levelled against
two former Civic Democrat MPs, the prime minister defended the practice of
non-monetary political bartering, which he said was standard practice in
The vice- chairman of the ruling TOP 09 party, Miroslav Kalousek, expressed support for the prime minister saying he saw no reason for the government to resign if Mr. Nečas dismisses the suspected individuals from the Office of the Government. Opposition MPs called for immediate resignation of the Prime Minister and early parliamentary elections. In the evening, chairwoman of the third coalition party LIDEM, Karolína Peake, said that she is expecting the prime minister to give a detailed explanation of his aide’s actions, and added that her confidence in Mr. Nečas has dropped “below the freezing point”.
The leadership of the Civic Democratic Party met on Friday evening to discuss the current political crisis and decide on further steps the party will take. One of the deputy chairmen of the party, Petr Pospíšil, told reporters during a recess that he thinks the governing coalition is not in danger right now. Deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic association of Central Bohemia, Raduan Nwelati, said before the meeting that he feels that although Prime Minister Nečas has not committed any wrongdoings himself, he should take responsibility for the unlawful actions of his closest colleagues.
Milan Komárek has been named the new head of the Anti-Corruption Unit of the Czech Police. He is replacing Tomáš Martinec, who left the post in mid-May following a complaint from the Prague High State Attorney Lenka Bradáčová. Mr. Komárek was previously the deputy director of the criminal police and investigation unit of the Central Bohemian region. After being named to the new position, Mr. Komárek said that he wants the Anti-Corruption Unit to work on fewer, but more significant cases, and to develop closer cooperation with other units of the police force.
Střelecký island in central Prague will be closed most likely until the end of summer, after being submerged for a number of days during the recent floods. The island was under large-scale renovation at the time of the flooding, and many of the renovated parts of the island as well as construction equipment was damaged by the water, which rose up to a meter and a half above the island’s surface. The renovation work, which was supposed to draw to a close in early June, began last October and was originally meant to cost 80 million crowns. Střelecký island is the site of many outdoor festivals throughout the year. An international music festival organized by the magazine Respect scheduled for this weekend was moved to a different location because of the damage to the island.
Famous Czech actor Ivan Trojan has received the Outstanding Actor Award in the Mini-series category at the prestigious Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Mr. Trojan was given the award for his role in the HBO mini-series “The Burning Bush”, directed by Agnieszka Holland. The three-part TV movie, which focuses on the self-immolation of the student Jan Palach in Prague in 1969 premiered in the Czech Republic this January.
The legendary American rock band Kiss will be performing on Friday night at the O2 arena in Prague. The band is promoting their twentieth studio album Monster. The last time Kiss performed in the Czech Republic was three years ago. Prague’s O2 arena will host another international musical icon, Eric Clapton, this upcoming Wednesday night.
Czech Radio has launched a campaign to help raise money for flood victims. The station has organized a VIP call centre operated by well-known radio personalities, popular singers and actors who are taking calls from donors from 5am until 6pm on Friday. The Czech Radio Foundation has set up a special bank account, entitled Help with Us, to which people can contribute money up until June 21st. The number of the Czech bank account is 888 444 666/0300. People can also donate via SMS messages sent from Czech mobile phones. The message DMS ROZHLAS should be sent to the phone number 87777. One DMS costs 30 crowns of which 27 goes in aid of flood victims, and the remaining 3 to the service operator.
In a public statement to the nation, Prime Minister Petr Necas said he saw
no reason to resign from office in the wake of a police raid on the Office
of the Government late Wednesday. The prime minister said his conscience
was clear and he had seen no evidence implicating those of his associates
who were detained in the night raid. He called on the police and State
Attorney’s Office in Olomouc to clarify the reasons behind the extensive
police operation in which several people were detained, among others the
prime minister’s closest aide Jana Nagyova and the head of the Office of
the Government Lubomir Poul. The prime minister said that from the
information he had received in the course of the day it appeared that the
case revolved around three rebel Civic Democrat MPs who were suspected of
having accepted bribes in return for giving up their seats in Parliament.
The prime minister called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday evening to debate the crisis.
The Civic Democratic Party’s coalition partners TOP 09 and LIDEM have been cautious in their response to the raids, saying they would issue official statements after obtaining more information on the case. At a press conference in Prague on Thursday night TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg said the country was now at a cross-roads: if the police operation is seen to be fully justified it would re-enforce democracy in the country, should the police and state attorney’s office fail to provide convincing evidence it would severely undermine trust in the country’s institutions.
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