The ruling coalition party TOP 09, which on Friday expressed support for the prime minister on the grounds that the police had failed to provide sufficient evidence in the case, has called an emergency meeting of its party leadership for Saturday evening. The move came following growing discontent with the party’s position on the matter and criticism of the prime minister. Party deputy-chair Miroslav Kalousek, said the situation was grave. There have been widespread reports that TOP 09 is preparing to hold talks on early elections with the opposition Social Democrats.
Jana Nagyová the prime minister’s chief-of-staff and by all accounts a central figure in the ongoing corruption scandal, has been refused bail. Nagyová is accused of abuse of office and corruption and could face up to five years in prison. She will remain in custody in Ostrava. Her lawyer has appealed the verdict. The regional court in Ostrava likewise refused bail to former agriculture minister Ivan Fuksa, and his former deputy Roman Boček, former Civic Democrat MP Petr Tluchoř and the former head of military intelligence, General Ondřej Palenik.
Government officials, cultural figures and WWII veterans gathered at the Lidice memorial on Saturday for a commemorative ceremony marking the destruction of the village by the Nazis in 1942 in revenge for the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. All the men in Lidice were shot, women transported to concentration camps, children forcibly placed in German families for re-education and the village itself was razed to the ground. Speaking at the ceremony, President Miloš Zeman warned against what he called creeping neo-Nazism and false nationalism, saying society must remain vigilant against the danger of history repeating itself.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Saturday apologized to the three persons who were spied on, on the orders of his chief-of-staff, including his wife Radka. The prime minister said he was unaware that such orders had been given and would personally never have allowed the country’s intelligence services to be abused in this manner. He expressed deep regret over the incident.
President Miloš Zeman has indicated that the prime minster should resign over a graft scandal involving his chief-of- staff. Asked by media whether the center-right cabinet should continue in office, Mr. Zeman said that the charges against the prime minister’s close aide Jana Nagyová were “very serious” and appeared to be well founded. After being briefed on the case by the police president and Olomouc state attorney, I have come to the conclusion that the charges of abuse of office and corruption are based on sufficient evidence, the president said. The prime minister has come under increasing pressure to quit in the wake of an extensive anti-graft sweep in several government institutions. Seven people have been charged in connection with the affairs.
The opposition Social Democrats have urged the prime minister to act responsibly and to resign in the face of the growing scandal. Party deputy chair Michal Hašek said that every additional hour of procrastination was damaging the country’s reputation and undermining the country’s democracy. In connection with Tuesday’s no-confidence vote, Mr. Hašek said he hoped that at least some members of the ruling coalition would put the best interests of the state ahead of their own narrow party interests. The opposition needs 101 votes to bring down the government. The motion to dissolve Parliament and open the way for early elections would have to be supported by 120 deputies.
The head of the country’s military intelligence, General Milan Kovanda, reportedly thought he was acting in the interests of the Czech Republic when he took orders from the prime minister’s chief-of-staff to spy on three people. The general’s lawyer told journalists on Saturday that General Kovanda had merely acted as a solider used to taking orders and not questioning them. Police investigators revealed that Jana Nagyová, who is romantically linked to the prime minister, had the three persons followed for her own private reasons. The general was released on a court order.
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.
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 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.
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