Education Minister Josef Dobeš has faced intense criticism in recent weeks over planned reforms of the Czech higher education and an announcement by the European Commission that it is suspending the payment of Kč 1.2 billion of EU funds earmarked for several programs within the Education for Competitiveness Operational Program (ECOP). Now with the threat of losing Kč 53 billion, Dobeš’ position appears untenable.
The year 2011 was marked by the coalition crisis, a spate of ministers being forced to leave office, the adoption of key new laws and the obstruction of others, the ČSSD filibuster, the critiques of President Václav Klaus and the death of his predecessor, Václav Havel. But despite the political uncertainty, can 2011 really be seen as an annus horribilis?
The Czech Police have reportedly completed their investigation into the alleged payment of cash bribes by Vít Bárta, de facto leader of the Public Affairs (VV), to now-former party members and serving MPs, Jaroslav Škárka and Kristýna Kočí, and will recommend the state prosecution service to prosecute Bárta, the server aktualne.cz reported Tuesday.
Investigative journalist Jaroslav Kmenta of MfD spent over a year tracking the development of the Public Affairs (VV) party, and investigating its founder and de facto leader, Vít Bárta, whose security and detective agency ABL stalked some high-profile prey, including Prague and national politicians. The resulting book, Super guru Bárta, delves deep into the cesspool of Czech politics.
Vít Bárta, head of Public Affairs’ club of MPs, was notified by anti-corruption police on Tuesday that he faces charges of suspected attempted bribery for cash payments made to former party colleagues Jaroslav Škárka and Kristýna Kočí. At the same time, Škárka was officially charged on suspicion of accepting a bribe from Bárta.
The Chamber of Deputies voted on Tuesday afternoon in favor of lifting MP’s immunity against prosecution from Vít Bárta, the de facto leader of Public Affairs - the smallest of the three parties in the ruling coalition. Police suspect Bárta of attempting to bribe two former party colleagues Kristýna Kočí and Jaroslav Škárka. The lower house also voted to lift the immunity of Škárka who police suspect of accepting bribes.
Two days before the Czech lower house’s Mandate and Immunity Committee meets to discuss a request by police to lift the parliamentary immunity of Public Affairs (VV) de facto leader Vít Bárta, he has requested his fellow MPs vote to oblige the request so he can face bribery charges. Several sources say in recent weeks he had lobbied various factions to vote in favor of preserving his immunity.
The government has endorsed the composition and statutes of its new anti-corruption commission, to be headed by Karolína Peake (VV) and comprise seven ministers, including Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (ODS) and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) — whom the VV party was calling upon to resign just months ago. A crucial test of Peake’s resolve to fight corruption will come in late August.
The lower house of parliament vote on whether to lift the immunity of de facto VV boss Vít Bárta and allow him to be questioned by police over suspected illegal “cash for loyalty” payments to fellow MPs is set for the end of August. A newspaper survey says most lawmakers will support a proposal to strip Bárta of his immunity, almost certainly leading to increased tensions in the government coalition.
Police are to recommend the public prosecution to charge de facto Public Affairs (VV) leader Vít Bárta with corruption for giving cash payments to party colleagues, allegedly in return for their loyalty, the server aktulane.cz reports, citing two anonymous sources well acquainted with the investigation. Police have reportedly dismissed Bárta’s claim he gave cash to payments to MPs Jaroslav Škárka and Kristýna Kočí as personal loans.