David Rath sees ‘parallel between my case and that of Yulia Tymoshenko’
The top Czech Social Democrat (ČSSD) politician charged with corruption after a police swoop claims he is a victim of political victimization like former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
David Rath, a former minister of health who stepped down from his highly public post of regional governor of the Central Bohemia region after allegedly being caught red handed with a Kč 7 million bribe, made the comparison in a statement released to the media. He and the seven other suspects have been detained in custody.
“I see a parallel between my case and that of Yulia Tymoshenko; she is also in prison, and she has also been charged with corruption…The argument of the Ukrainian and Czech authorities in these cases is that it is not about politics but it’s a normal criminal offense. The same argument is being used in my case and everything is being exaggerated so that it appears that way, including rumors about millions under the floorboards and machine guns,” Rath stated.
Various versions of the circumstances of the police swoop on Rath have leaked out, including one that a Kč 7 million bribe was hidden in a wine box, that a machine gun was found under the floorboards of his home and that he was armed with a pistol when detained.
‘I see a parallel between my case and that of Yulia Tymoshenko, she is also in prison, and she has also been charged with corruption.’
Rath has protested his innocence and maintained that he is the victim of a political plot to discredit him because he perceived as a dangerous threat. He pointed out that it was surprising that Czech Police, who according to him were usually incapable of investigating any scandals, suddenly launched a massive surveillance operation with a trap laid for him from which he couldn’t easily escape.
“I have come to terms with my situation; my political career has come to an end without regard to the truth, which no one is interested in. The worst is that the whole of our society has lost its liberty. What has happened to me today, which many people have sought, could happen tomorrow to many of you,” Rath, who has remained a member of the lower house of parliament, added.
Rath said that he was prepared to give up his seat in the lower house, but wanted to do so in person so that he could explain to his fellow lawmakers his version of the events which have been the focus of Czech attention since Monday’s police swoop. “The current powers are probably too afraid of that and that is why they have put a gag on me,” he continued.
Some suggestions have been made that some video link might be connected between Rath’s prison cell and parliament to overcome the immediate communication problems and avoid the embarrassment of him appearing in the lower chamber with a police escort. Some questions have been raised over whether such an escort would be allowed.
Details of the case surrounding Rath, a controversial former doctor who converted late to the Social Democrat cause and served as health minister in the government of former prime minister JiříParoubek, appear to center on the sudden Kč 42 million hike in the tender price for the restoration of a stately home on the outskirts of Prague that was being financed by the Central Bohemia regional government.
The sleekly turned out Rath gained a unique reputation in Czech politics for going for the jugular in political debate. His used an abrasive style on opponents which went into deep red on the PH scale for their acidity, unencumbered by the usual class references and verbiage of his party colleagues. Undiluted vitriol appeared to be the best medicine, in his books.
‘The worst is that the whole of our society has lost its liberty.’
Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the so-called Orange Revolution and two times Ukrainian prime minister was sentenced to seven years in prison last year for alleged abuse of office concerning Russian gas deals. The sentence has been condemned by the EU and many governments. She said the court verdict had been rigged by the authorities under orders of President Viktor Yankovych, who beat Tymoshenko in controversial elections in 2010. She recently ended a hunger strike in protest at her sentence.