Czech Position launched in December 2010 with the lofty goal of becoming the world’s daily English-language source for Czech political, business and cultural news, by offering a mix of breaking news reports, feature articles, analysis and investigative reporting. Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Czech Position has obtained a detailed price offer from November 2005 addressed to the Ministry of Defense’s armament section that supports allegations that the Czech Army got a raw deal on the purchase of four CASA C-295 transport planes. The document is part of the file upon which the police are charging ex-defense minister Vlasta Parkanová for allegedly violating her fiduciary duties in signing off on a 2009 deal.
Prague councilors have approved the sale of nearly 3,855 city-owned dwellings — just a few hundred shy of the entire number of apartments sold last year in the Czech capital — for which the city hopes to fetch at least Kč 4 billion. There is talk, however, that speculators will manage to circumvent controls seeking to grant favorable terms only to current tenants.
Stripped of her immunity, Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09) can now be prosecuted over a contract to buy CASA transport planes for the Czech Army — which were allegedly unneeded and deliberately overpriced by at least Kč 658 million. Former police investigator Zdeněk Ondráček explains how her prosecution could ultimately lead to higher levels of responsibility for the nation’s politicians.
The Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has said that to comply with the government’s request to check the books of the Administration of State Material Reserves (SSHR) would be futile, even if it had the full capacity to do so. PM Petr Nečas’ cabinet wants state auditors to investigate the controversial extra-budgetary “special accounts” — but the NKÚ has already made clear the SSHR buys high and sells low with impunity, and MPs have de facto legitimized the practice.
With the elections to the Czech upper house of Parliament only some five months away, political parties are trying to lure voters in with new faces. To its list of new heavyweights Senate hopefuls like the prominent sociologist Ivan Gabal and former Constitutional Court judge Eliška Wagnerová, the Green Party (SZ) has added a figure with star power: writer, journalist and former dissident Jáchym Topol.
The opaque brokerage Key Investments — into which nearly Kč 1 billion of public funds has apparently been lost or embezzled — has filed for insolvency and will probably go into liquidation. This does not mean, however, that Key Investments will cease to be a threat to the myriad politicians who profited from deals with the brokerage over the past decade. The potential for blackmail and settling political scores is huge.
While the Czech public paid little attention to the latest economic data, the time will almost certainly come when it will be impossible to ignore. The outlook for growth for the coming years is decidedly grim, especially given that tax revenues are falling far below expectations, writes Jaroslav Ungerman, chief economist for the Bohemian and Moravian Confederation of Trades Unions (ČMKOS).