Chairman of the main opposition party, Bohuslav Sobotka, met with President Miloš Zeman on Friday afternoon to discuss his plans to bring about early parliamentary elections and the dissolution of the current government due to a large-scale corruption scandal involving high-ranking officials from the Office of the Government and the ruling Civic Democratic party. Later the in the day, the speaker of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová, received a request from the Social Democratic party for a vote of no confidence to take place next week. After speaking with the opposition leader, the president met with Prime Minister Nečas, who did not reveal any details about the meeting to the press.
High State Attorney Ivo Ištvan on Friday confirmed that seven people have
been charged in connection with the anti-graft operation that began on
Wednesday evening. Among
them are Jana Nagyová, the prime minister’s chief of staff who has been
charged with abuse of office, the present and former heads of the
military intelligence and two former Civic Democrat MPs charged with
bribery and money laundering. It was also confirmed that Jana Nagyová is
involved in the web of corruption
having commissioned the country’s military intelligence to spy on three
persons, including the prime minister’s wife. She is also linked to the
corruption charges leveled against the two former MPs. According to the
news server iDnes.cz, the police is also looking into the prime minister
because he allegedly offered the three "rebel" Civic Democratic
MPs, two of who have already been charged, attractive positions in
government-run institutions in exchange for their help in passing the
government's reform package last fall.
The seven people who have been charged were brought from Prague to the courthouse detention in Ostrava on Friday evening, where their bail hearings will be held.
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.
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